Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Are those in the Federal Vision really Reformed Baptist?


Now, I know this title is provocative. I want to assure you that I know that, but it is done to prove a point. Let me explain, those in the Federal Vision claim that the main line PCA and OPC are nothing more that Reformed Baptists warmed over. They say this based on the view the PCA and the OPC have of their children, how they need to be converted. I am not interested in defending the PCA or OPC at this point, here and now. I only say this to give a background for my post.

So, how is it that the FV is similar to/or the same as Reformed Baptists? The point of correspondence is found in this: the way both groups understand the New Covenant. Reformed Baptists see the New Covenant as only made with the elect, i.e. those that are saved. This is why they only baptize those that profess to be believers because they only put the sign of the covenant (baptism) on those in the covenant (the elect). The same is true of the FV. They want to see everyone in the New Covenant as ‘saved.’ If you are baptized, even as an infant, you are saved, according to the FV. Many in the FV have no problem using, with qualification, the phrase ‘baptismal regeneration.’ Some argue that all infants in covenant families have faith. According to the FV baptism puts one into Christ and anyone in Christ is ‘saved’ (the reason I keep using the quotes is because they would say ‘saved in a sense’). Thus, the FV seem to be similar on this point with Reformed Baptists. They both want to see the New Covenant as being made with ‘saved’ people. Whereas, the PCA and the OPC see the New Covenant as having both saved and unsaved people, it is a ‘mixed’ group of people.

27 comments:

  1. But does "saved" mean the same thing when the two groups say it? If it doesn't, then all you are doing is equivocating. ??

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  2. Xon,

    I make it clear in my post that both groups do not mean the exact same thing by the word saved; however, both groups are similar in this regard that they both can look out on their Churches and say to everyone that is a member of this Church, you are saved.

    When the FV says that the mainline Presbyterians are really Reformed Baptists, they do not mean in every way. The simply mean similar in a very close way. This is all I am trying to point out about the FV. They are the ones who are, in fact, Reformed Baptists.

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  3. Sorry, Josh, I could have made my objection more clear. I was trying brevity for once. :-)

    I read your whole post, and I understand that you acknowledge the difference in usage of the term "saved" for both groups. My point is this: to acknowledge that difference but continue to say that they are similar because they both say similar words is to make an entirely vacuous claim, unless you are operating on some tantalizingly unique assumptions about linguistic expression (which, if you are, you should spell out). The general consensus of western intellectual history (most sweeping claim I've ever made!) is that words do not matter, so much as concepts.

    Your argument is like saying that Bill and Ted (of the movie about an Excellent Adventure) are both Lutherans because they both speak of people as being "righteous." Both groups use the same word, and so that similarity is sufficient to say that, in fact, the two groups are ideologically similar.

    Again, unless you can help me understand (and, if possible, accept) some completely different assumptions about words and concepts, it is hard to see how this association you draw is not sophomorically shallow.

    In other words, I've never heard anyone argue in my entire life (though maybe I just don't get out much) that a willingness to use the same word, even with entirely different senses of meaning, constitutes two groups as "similar in a very close way." That is not a "very close way" at all. It is one of the most surface-level similarities you could possibly draw. It is not much deeper than saying that FVers are Reformed Baptists because both groups contain human beings.

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  4. Xon,

    Again I fear you have missed my point. Let me put my point like this: According to the FV, mainline Presbyterians are really Reformed Baptists (RB), if this is true, then in reality it is the FV that are RB, since their theology is, in fact, more inline with RB theology. Is that clearer?

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  5. No, not really. What is the evidence for your assertion that FV theology is "more inline" with RB theology? Where is the pudding that contains the proof?

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  6. Josh, I'm sorry but your last comment is really unclear. I'm not really sure what you hope to accomplish by making this identification. You've said that FV discussions are similar to exchanges with other Arminians. You've said that FV is feared because it feels like semi-Pelagianism is coming in through the back door. Do you really want to say that Reformed Baptist are closer to this type of FV theology?

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  7. Xon and Faris,

    I think I have been pretty clear in what sense I mean the FV is like RB. If I have not I will again spell it out. Both the FV and RB want to be able to say all the members in the New Covenant are saved. Yes, both groups do not mean the same thing by saved, which I have said twice before. My position seems to be clear and straightforward.

    Now, since you both are FV I do not expect you guys to agree with me on my assesment. But I do think my point is clear. And if it is still unclear, please ask me some questions so I can clearify my point here.

    After all, I think this is an interesting observation, but it is not one I am willing to 'fight' about. I posted this to show our readers what I am thinking about and to add some new thoughts to the FV conversation (to borrow a term from the emerging discussion), not to start a fight.

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  8. How is this post for the sake of anything other than a meager attempt to ruffle someone's feathers?

    To the question at hand, the "FV" has nothing to do with being Reformed Baptist. In fact, Reformed Baptists as they are today probably wouldn't be around were it not for the half-way covenant alterations of traditional federal theology that have been propagated up unto this day in American Presbyterian circles.

    Reformed Baptists view the covenant as being between God and the "elect." In other words, there are no covenant breakers. This denies many clear passages of Scripture which you likely would agree with. Where the FV and perhaps your own position would depart in on these covenant breakers; are they merely "false" or "never really truly" disciples, or are they faithless Christians who are cut-off from the promises in Christ offered to them. The modern, American, southern Presbyterian would claim the former, whereas those affiliated with the "FV" (following the tradition of many federal theologians before them) would claim the latter.

    Historically speaking, this isn't anything new, and has been disagreed upon for centuries.

    So, again, being "Reformed Baptist" has nothing to do with it, in my opinion.

    Peace,
    Gabe

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  9. I agree with Josh that FV to Reformed Baptists is a much better parallel then Presbyterians to Reformed baptists.

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  10. Gabe,

    First, I gave my reasons for posting this blog. I would hope that as a Christian brother you would give me the benefit of the doubt on this issue. In other words, please treat me the way you guys want the TR to treat the FV. But I guess it is easier to point out the flaws in others than to act the way we preach. And I do mean this for both sides.

    Second, I appreciate you giving our readers a clear example of someone in the FV claiming that "American Presbyterian[s]" are the cause for RB. Again I see a double standard here. It is alright for the FV to 'throw rocks' at the TR and claim they are RB, but when the favor is returned, it is done to "ruffle someone's feathers." Please keep in mind, I think it is perfectly fine to point out things you see in other systems. If the FV think that the TRs are RB they can say that, but at the same time thr TRs can return the favor.

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  11. Josh,

    "I think I have been pretty clear in what sense I mean the FV is like RB. If I have not I will again spell it out. Both the FV and RB want to be able to say all the members in the New Covenant are saved. Yes, both groups do not mean the same thing by saved, which I have said twice before. My position seems to be clear and straightforward."

    I am not missing what your point is, Josh. I have said that several times on my end. I am questioning the logical basis of your point. I am questioning the reasonsing behind your point. If you don't have good reason for saying it, then simply telling me that you are saying it is rather beside the point.

    Here's the problem with your post, as I see it, again to spell out what I am saying. When you say "Yes, both groups do not mean the same thing by saved," then you have removed any simlarity that is worth a darn.

    The fact that two groups use similar words with different meanings doesn't make them similar groups in any significant sense. (See my Bill and Ted illustration). I understand that you are claiming that FV and RB are similar. What I am counterasserting is that if you reasons for saying they are similar is simply that they both want to use this word with an admittedly different meaning, then you have really not proven much of a similarity at all. I want you to explain/justify how a merely semantic similarity is a substantive similarity between two groups.

    Again, here it is in 'logical flowchart' form:

    P1. A merely semantic similarity is not a substantive similarity.
    P2. Your post asserts only a merely semantic similarity between FV and RB.
    C. Therefore, your post does not provide evidence of a substantive similarity between FV and RB.

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  12. Xon,

    Do you agree with the other FVers that the mainline Presbyterians are nothing more than Reformed Baptists warmed over?

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  13. I think that's a little too careless of a way to put it, but I think it is helpful as a 'bumper sticker' type of orientation, yes. (Assuming by "mainline" you mean evangelical/conservative. I don't know what to say about liberal Presbyterians, except the obvious that everybody says about them. :-) )

    The way some Reformed folks today turn infant baptisms into a "qualification fest," spending five minutes telling the congregation what this baptism we're about to do doesn't do. "Vipers in diapers." The kid saying he loves Jesus isn't good enough, b/c he doesn't REALLY understand the depth of his sin, and thus cannot REALLY understand the true meaning of faith in Christ to relieve him of that burden. Worrying more about making our kids presumptuous than we do about training them to have doubts. Etc. etc. Yes, I think these things are more compatible with a view that "nothing much really happens at baptism," and thus are more compatible with a "Reformed Baptist" sacramentology in which, for some reason, we get the kid wet when we dedicate him.

    I think that's an interesting criticism. I think it is effective at getting Reformed/Presby types to think more carefully about their view of the sacraments. And, yes, I think in some cases it hits a nerve. Squarely.

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  14. Xon,

    Great, thanks!!

    Alright, so in the same way you see some similarities between TRs and RB, I see similarities between the FV and RB.

    Am I saying they are the same thing? NO. Am I saying that they have similarities on their views of the New Covenant? YES. What are these similarities? They both think everyone in the New Covenant is saved. Do they both have the same view on what it means to be saved? NO. Am I saying these views are identical? NO.

    So, if you can see similarities between the TRs and RB, I can see similarities between the FV and RB.

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  15. Josh, not all similarities are created equal. In fact, some of them are so superficial as to be not even worth mentioning. That's the case here, I think, and I would be backed up by just about anyone who holds to a standard distinction between word and concept. Concepts matter, not particular words.

    Your argument--Xon sees similarity between two groups; I see similarity between two groups--is like saying that a pious Mennonite and a serial killer are both "ethical" or are both living a "similar" kind of life since, after all, both of them are doing "something that comes under the purview of ethics."

    It's like saying that the guy who overlooks the sign for his exit and the guy who sees the sign are both doing something called "driving according to directions." It's just that one of them is doing it poorly and one of them is doing it well, but they're both doing the "same" kind of thing. But, no, they're not. Overlooking your exist is not an exercise of "paying attention to your directions" any more than beating your wife is an exercise of your ability to love her. Yet we could say that both the wife beater and the wife lover are both people who have wives, therefore they are similar! And all arguments for similarity are created equal!

    All of these "similarities" are incredibly weak, and nobody would take them seriously. I think your similarity between FV and RB is even worse, because it is purely semantic. Such similariteis carry virtually no weight whatsoever. Your point is thus a "big whoop". You've found a similarity that almost anyone could find between almost any two groups of people (so long as they both use the same word with different meanings, then they are "similar" in the way you describe, and voila!).

    Thus, my response to your post all along has been that this is an incredibly superficial similarity between FV and RB, and it is really not a similarity worth discussing at all.

    If this sort of thing makes FV and RB similar, then it also makes Protestants and Catholics similar because both use the word "justified" to talk about all saved people. Of course, they use the word with completely different meanings, but that doesn't matter. All I'm saying, you see, is that they are "similar." And I have indeed found a similarity (a word they both use, but with different meanings).

    The similarity that I talked about earlier between American presbyterians and RB's is much more substantive than this sort of semantic pedantry. That's my response. The two kinds of "similarity" are not even close to being of equal significance.

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  16. Xon,

    You said, "Your argument--Xon sees similarity between two groups; I see similarity between two groups--is like saying that a pious Mennonite and a serial killer are both "ethical" or are both living a "similar" kind of life since, after all, both of them are doing "something that comes under the purview of ethics.""

    You analogy so misses the point as to highlight the glaring double standard that the FV uses. It would be so much better to just agree to disagree than make such a ridiculous analogy. Your analogy is not even close. One is good ethically and the other is not. In the similarity between the FV and RB they both are referring to saved people. Sure one is saved primarily(RB) and one is saved temporarily and primarily (FV), but both views say all in the New Covenant are saved. The fact that you keep arguing this show that you are simply unwilling to give any credibility to anything anyone says against the FV.

    In fact, I stopped reading after I read this. If this is the best you have to offer, I an not interested. I am not speading anymore time reading if this is what my time gets me. Sorry that is harsh, but it what I think. God Bless.

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  17. Josh, you don't sound harsh. You sound ignorant. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

    You have stood up before the world on your blog and you have posted that "FV is similar to RB". Okay, interesting. Why are they similar? Well, they both use the same word. Um...sure, that's true....but so what? This strikes you as an interesting similarity? It is like announcing to the world that you were thinking about it today, and you don't mean to be provocative, but you realized that A cannot be not A. Vacuously true, but completely uninformative.

    In teh case of your semantic comparison b/w FV and RB, though, not only is your comparison technically true but informative, it is misleading about their actual theologies in question. Because as soon as you "translate" what the two groups both mean by the word "saved," you realize they are saying (and believing) completely different things. Now how on earth are two theologies that believe completely different things about the matter in question "similar?" Only in the sense that they use the same word, which is not much of a sense at all.

    You claim this is somehow on equal footing with FV comparisons of TRs and RBs, because after all, they're both similarities. And this is what you said, to wit:

    (A) "Alright, so in the same way you see some similarities between TRs and RB, I see similarities between the FV and RB."

    (B)"When the FV says that the mainline Presbyterians are really Reformed Baptists, they do not mean in every way. The simply mean similar in a very close way. This is all I am trying to point out about the FV. They are the ones who are, in fact, Reformed Baptists."

    (C) "So, if you can see similarities between the TRs and RB, I can see similarities between the FV and RB."

    In all of these quotes you rather clearly assert an equivalency (or at least a very close similarity) between FV comparisons of TR and RB and your comparison here of FV and RB. That claim, that we're both in similar boats because we're both just noticing simlarities, is what I find utterly bizarre.

    And, of course, this doesn't even addres your stronger claim in your second comment in this thread that "then in reality it is the FV that are RB, since their theology is, in fact, more inline with RB theology." [emphasis added]

    Finally, here's the best analogy since you didn't read all the way.
    Do you think, Josh, that the following two comparisons are any where near the same significance?

    (1) RCs and EOs are similar because both have similar ecclesiatical practices--veneration of icons, use of relics, etc.

    (2) Protestants and RCs are similar because both say that all people in Heaven have been "justified."

    Are (1) and (2) anywhere near each other in significance? Is (2) even a point worth making? Or does it completely misrepresent the actual theology of both Prots and RCs?

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  18. In the first sentence of the third paragraph, that should be "uninformative", not "informative." Oops, sorry!

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  19. Xon,

    The fact that you think my point is "they both use the same word" Once again shows that you have missed my point.

    Unlit you can represent my point here rightly, I will not read your comments. As for you above comment I stopped after the first paragraph. I do not have time to argue with someone who refuses to see my point.

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  20. You know, I wanted to stand on the sidelines on this one. However, I sense you are both the types of personalities to talk at each other until someone gives up. Not that what I'm about to say is going to calm these ferocious seas...

    Xon,

    First of all, Josh will probably keep reading your comments. ;-)

    Second, I think it's just as fair to point out similarities between FV and RB understanding of salvation for those in the covenant as it is for the Federal Vision advocates to point out similarities between the way that TRs and RBs treat their children, convenantally speaking.

    Third, if I were you, I wouldn't get so defensive, because this isn't a particularly devastating form of argument; in fact, it means nothing, as your examples of Roman Catholics and Orthdox demonstrate. To be like Reformed Baptists in some respect is very possible, considering that they are VERY similar in many respects.

    Fourth, I think your example of the Mennonite and Serial Killer doesn't work because Josh is talking about their similar views of those whom they understand to be in the covenant. Again, pointing out similarities isn't really a devastating method because it doesn't get to the heart of the issue. It's usually just more insulting, and I understand that no one likes that. I sure don't.


    Josh,

    I agree that these are similarities. I see what you're saying, and I don't need to repeat it entirely, as Xon has done that somewhat in his last comment. The reason I think the comparison is more than semantic is because you are talking about each view's understanding of who is in the covenant. For the RB, any professing, baptized person is understood as being saved. For the FV, any professing, baptized person is seen as being in the covenant and therefore saved, as well. To Xon I would say that this seems to me to be more than a superficial similarity. I mean, it still doesn't get to the root of things (as you guys were closer to dealing with in your discussion on Josh's other blog post), but it's a true observation, I think. Again, there's not much bite in such a criticism; there's a lot more bark, and so egos can get bruised without issues actually being dealt with.

    I suppose one point I take from this is that the FV shouldn't dish out any sort of criticism it isn't willing to accept, itself. I do want to say, Xon, that you have been nothing but gracious in your dealings with us here, and it is obvious to everyone that Josh is not dealing with a criticism which you have offered up.

    If this discussion goes any further, though, it's just going to turn into mud-slinging, I'm afraid. Everyone's made their points, and the point is that no one likes anyone else's points. I only wish I could have found a way to be more middle of the road and say that I agree with both of you; but maybe I'm just sloppy enough to get what Josh is saying.

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  21. This will be my last comment in this thread, as Adam is right that this has moved well beyond profitability. I do want to sign off with my assessment of what has happened here, though.

    (Quick clarification: I've been using the word "semantic," but that's a colloquialism for any "argument over words." Technically, "semantics" refers to meaning, and so it is not the best word here since Josh acknowledges that their meanings are different. So I should really use a word like "verbal" to describe Josh's similarity. That's what I'll do from here on)

    Adam, I appreciate your effort to intervene here. I also appreciate your kind words about how I have conducted myself here. I understand why it might look like we are 'fighting' in a way that is less-than-becoming. But, while I can't speak for Josh, I can say in all sincerity that I am not 'upset' or 'angry' in this conversation. Nor am I being 'defensive' about FV. My attitude, and this will sound arrogant but it is what it is, is more like a logic teacher who is trying to get a student to understand why their argument committed a really obvious fallacy. Their refusal or inability to see that they have done so is causing a bit of puzzled strain on my part, but that's all. But I don't need to defend "FV" here, because nothing of any significance has been said against FV. FV is only on the "defensive" here in the same way that Luther would be on the "defensive" if someone accused him of being "similar to Catholics" because he uses the word "justified" to talk about people in Heaven. He wouldn't be defesnive at all, just puzzled (or perhaps embarrassed for the person who made the accusation).

    I don't like putting things in this way (sounds arrogant, could be embarassing to Josh, etc.), but that's where we are now. I'm not accusing Josh of sin, but of logical silliness. Nor am I slandering him without evidence. I have provided lots and lots of interaction with his post and with his comments explaining his post. I am fallible and fallen, of course, so anyone who wants to e-mail me privately to point out some way that I've been unfair to Josh is warmly invited to do so. (xonhostetter at gmail dot com) I will apologize publically and ask for his forgiveness. (The invitation is open to Josh as well).

    Josh now refuses to read my comments after the first paragraph, because he says I am not interpreting his argument correctly. Of course, as you know Adam from reading my latest comments, I actually quoted Josh's own words extensively to show that I am not misrepresenting his argument. I am still fallible (see above), so maybe I misread those comments. But I don't think so. They seem pretty clear to me, and anyway Josh refuses to even read my interaction with them.

    As to what I have been arguing all along, I have never denied the similarity Josh points out. Read that again (anyone who is reading): I never denied that FV and RB are similar in the way Josh describes. What I am denying is that this particular similarity is worth making 'hay' out of. I threw a lot of quick analogies out, not all of which were so great, but the best one is definitiely the one about Protestants and Catholics. Here both groups speak about the same group of people (people who go to Heaven) by using the same word: "justification." And yet their views of justification are quite different. Thus, that particular similarity is almost completely weightless. It is merely verbal. Which is what I pointed out from the beginning. Again, I was never saying that it wasn't a similarity, but that it was a dumb one to make a big deal out of (sorry!).

    So really, Adam, you and I agree pretty closely here. Josh's argument does not "get to the substance of things." It has no "bite"--or very little bite. That's all I was ever saying. To say that FV is similar to RB for this reason that Josh gives is not to say that they are very similar at all. Using the same word (to apply to the same group), but with different meanings, doesn't make you very "similar' at all. Simlarity is relative: so this is a very very "weak" kind of similarity to draw. That's been my point all along.

    Which is also why I cannot agree with your assessment, Adam, that this discussion shows "that the FV shouldn't dish out any sort of criticism it isn't willing to accept, itself." I mean, that is a true statement--we should all be held to the same standard. But FV's claim that TRs and RBs are similar is not the same "sort of criticism" of TRs as Josh's claim of similarity between FVs and RBs. They are not the same sort of criticism. The one (FV) claims there is a similarity in ecclesiastical practice b/w TRs and RBs. The other (Josh) claims that there is a similarity in use of a word (with admittedly different meanings!) b/w FVs and RBs. These are not the same 'level' of simliarities at all, and thus they are not the same kinds of "criticisms" at all. Josh's statement isn't really even a "criticism" of FV, unless it is a criticism of Luther to say that he used the word "justified" to talk about people in Heaven, just like the Catholics do. Is that a "criticism" of Luther? Or just an unecessary statement of a superficial issue that proves nothing of any theological significance?

    Or, again when you say this:

    "Second, I think it's just as fair to point out similarities between FV and RB understanding of salvation for those in the covenant as it is for the Federal Vision advocates to point out similarities between the way that TRs and RBs treat their children, convenantally speaking."

    You think it is "just as fair" to say that two people or theologies are similar over a verbal simlarity as it is to say that they are similar over a matter of what they actually believe or how they actually live? "Just as fair?" No way. Merely verbal similarities are low rung. Almost any two groups in the world (that speak the same language) are similar in this merely verbal way: there is probably some word (and we don't care about what it means) that they both apply to the same group. FV's compariosn of TRs to RBs is much more significant than this (so significant that it might be too much; I'm not sure it's a very good argument for FVers to make. But that's just it: the FVers are claiming something that requires substantive proof. Josh's comparison is a game any four year old could play.)

    I also don't agree with you, Adam, that pointing out similarities in general is not helpful. Similarities can be VERY helpful in undestanding things: but the similarities have to be rooted in the 'real' nature of things and not simply in words. Verbal similarities are not helpful, and Josh's similarity is verbal only. In contrast, FVers claim a real substantive similarity, a similarity in the nature of things, between TRs and RBs.

    So, again, notice what I am and what I am not claiming here. I am not claiming that Josh's pointed-out similarity isn't there. It is there. It is there in such an obvious and vacuous way, though, that one wonders why someone would even point it out at all? In order to show that "FVers are like RBs in an important way?" Well sorry, that doesn't follow. Is it just to show that "FVers are like RBs in some way, important or not?" Well then, again what's the point of saying that. Everyting is like everything else in some way: but not all similarities are equally significant. Down near the bottom of the list of significance is a similarity of word-usage. Fvers say that TRs and RBs are similar in a much more significant way than this.

    You try to defend Josh by interpreting him (even though he has given several comments and never said anything remotely close to your interpretation) as positing a more than verbal similarity. After all, you say, the fact that they are both talking about the same group (people in the covenant) when they use the word "saved" implies that they have a similar view of what it means to be in the covenant.

    But this still isn't valid. It is the same thing that can be said of the Prot/Cath example I gave above. Both theologies are talking about people who go to Heaven (same group of people), and both use the word "justified" to talk about that group, therefore they must have importantly similar theologies of how you go to Heaven? The error is obvious on this example. The similarity is merely verbal, and the inference from it to a similar substantive theology is invalid. The same word is applied to the same group, and it is inferred from this that the two people who use that word have a similar view of that group they apply the word to. This does not follow. So your own attempt to defend Josh, while noble, doesn't make his argument valid, although it would have been a little more interesting to discuss the argument in that light with Josh, if only he had said that this was what he meant.

    But, as it is, Josh never defended his view in the way you describe. In fact, when I pressed him on the fact that he was only talking about words, all he said in response was things like

    "I think I have been pretty clear in what sense I mean the FV is like RB. If I have not I will again spell it out. Both the FV and RB want to be able to say all the members in the New Covenant are saved. Yes, both groups do not mean the same thing by saved, which I have said twice before. My position seems to be clear and straightforward."

    Remember, I have already accused him of marking out a merely semantic similarity. He responds by explaining his own position as...merely semantic. The "sense" in which FV and RB are similar--which he has already made "pretty clear" and is again going to "spell out"--is that they both "want to be able to say all the members in the New Covenant are saved." The smilarity is all about what both groups say, i.e., the words they use. If you think that's too tight of an interpretation of "to say," then Josh makes it unavoidable in his next sentence: "Yes, both groups do not mean the same thing by saved." So, he acknowledges that they say the same thing, but they do so with different meaning. So the only similarity he is poiting out is that they use the same word. What other similarity is there that he points to? He has just made it "clear;" he has just "spelled out" his meaning so that I will get it. And all he has said when spelling it out is that both groups use the same word (with different meanings!). This is the textbook definition of a merely semantic (verbal) similarity.

    Now, in his latest comment, Josh tells me that he won't talk to me any more if I'm going to keep misrepresenting him like this. If I think he is only drawing a similarity based on the use of a word, then I'm just not even trying to read him honestly. So, help me out, whoever is reading this: where does Josh (since he's not reading this anymore) say anything different? His latest comment was the first time that Josh has even explicitly claimed to be drawing more than a verbal similarity. Yet his own earlier explanations were entirely verbal. My provisional conclusion is that sometimes those who want to attack the FV for being "unclear" need a double dose of clarity in their own right.

    In any case, Josh has offered no explanation of any sort of more-than-verbal similarity in this thread.

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  22. Only for clarities sake.

    This is what was said, "The one (FV) claims there is a similarity in ecclesiastical practice b/w TRs and RBs. The other (Josh) claims that there is a similarity in use of a word (with admittedly different meanings!) b/w FVs and RBs."

    My point is not not simply that the FV and RB use the same words. Once again, my point it that they both (FV and RB) want to see all people in the Covenant the same way which in both cases is seeing them as saved. Not just viewed as saved, but really, in fact, actually saved. Both groups do not see being saved as the same thing. I have acknowledge this from the start and this has never been the point I have been driving at. Again, my point is the similarity between believing all people in the Covenant the same way. The fact that they both use the word saved, is a minor and secondary point.

    Since Xon made it clear that he would not respond, I will respect that by not offering arguments for my view. However, if someone else would like me to give my reasons for seeing this similarity, I would be happy to.

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  23. Also, I invite everyone to read the original post. Here is the point I made then, "The point of correspondence is found in this: the way both groups understand the New Covenant." This is the point of similarity: both groups want to see the New Covenant as monolithic. It is almost irrelevant to my point that both see this group as saved. The only way that it is relevant is secondary to bluster and make my point stronger and not the point itself.

    Let me make this same point in a different way. My point would still stand if hypothetically the FV saw all in the New Covenant as saved and the RB saw all in the New Covenant as damned. My point that both groups see the New Covenant as monolithic still stands in this scenario. The fact that they both see all in the New Covenant as saved only makes the similarity stronger, granted that the term saved is used is a different sense.

    But, I say all this to point out that my point has remanded the same. From the first post until now, my point has not changed and it has never been merely 'semantics.'

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  24. Xon,
    Several of your comments about not meaning "saved" in the same sense seem to be stepping back from points you made in comments on the post on FVers a few posts back.

    I don't care who's closer to RB's, because neither are reformed baptists and neither wants to be reformed baptists. The claim that reformed baptists exist because of the modern southern American presbyterians is ridiculous. No modern pastor I know can take responsibility for John Bunyan, C. H. Spurgeon or any number of others that I can think of.

    I could probably draw lines of similarity between any two groups in conservative evangelicalism if I wanted to. In fact I'm sure that I could draw ties between plenty of groups outside of conservative evangelicalism and those inside it, too. I happen to agree with the statement of Theodosius, Gratian and Valentinian II, but that doesn't make me a Roman.

    I know the group that Xon and Gabe are talking about when they make ties between the RB's and the southern presbyterians, but I think that making those people, who have so very little knowledge of the tradition that they come from and have no intention of propagating the tradition that they come from, a straw man for all modern southern presbyterians is a joke. You end up lumping Dabney and Machen, who are both southern presbyterians, right in with them, as well as any number of churches today, whose explanation of baptism is nothing like that you've described and would never talk about vipers in diapers.

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  25. jmr,

    How are my comments "stepping back" from things I said earlier? What things do you have in mind? I don't think I've backed off from anything at all. What do you have in mind?

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  26. The level of confusion about the actual issues is very apparent in some of these side-swipe comments. This one was bad enough to reel me in:

    "I know the group that Xon and Gabe are talking about when they make ties between the RB's and the southern presbyterians, but I think that making those people, who have so very little knowledge of the tradition that they come from and have no intention of propagating the tradition that they come from, a straw man for all modern southern presbyterians is a joke. You end up lumping Dabney and Machen, who are both southern presbyterians, right in with them, as well as any number of churches today, whose explanation of baptism is nothing like that you've described and would never talk about vipers in diapers."

    First of all. Machen was NOT a Southern Presbyterian. He was at Old Princeton and went on to found the OPC (how many of those are in Mississippi?) and Westminster Theological Seminary. He was rather liberal by Southern Presbyterian Standards, as he did not hold to 6 day creation and was open to certain progressive scientific theories of his day. Dabney would have been quite a different story.

    Now as to the "vipers in diapers." I first heard this at an RUF conference at Twin Lakes. It typically is attributed to Dabney and Thornwell. Thornwell writes:

    "They are born unto her as children, and as children, the great duty she owes to them is to educate them. But in heart and spirit they are of the world. In this aspect, how is she to treat them? Precisely as she treats all other impenitent and unbelieving men -- she is to exercise the power of the keys, and shut them out from the communion of the saints. She is to debar them from all the privileges of the inner sanctuary. She is to exclude them from their inheritance until they show themselves meet to possess it. (Thornwell's Works IV, p. 341)"

    That's it, through and through.

    Now Thornwell didn't create Reformed Baptists. Quite the reverse. His mother remained a baptist her entire life, and at her funeral Thornwell said that he'd learned all of his theology from her feet.

    Calvin said the children of the covenant possess the reality, and because of that we must not forbid them the sign of that reality. He and Thornwell are very different in this regard. Lewis Schenck's book provides a helpful survey of the various views espoused throughout the years: http://tinyurl.com/2nc3cb

    I think we also have to admit that "conversion" is the normal method of bringing up covenant children in the South. Did not Dr. Waters recently say in class that baptism communicates the child's need to be saved?

    It isn't my intention to criticize my own profs in public, but let's at least be honest as to which positions are articulated.

    Of course, I must also point out that other profs have different views. Dr. Currey has spoken highly of of Schenck's book and Dr. Hoffecker has promoted Calvin's sacramental views quite valiantly.

    I'm more with them, obviously, and I don't care to get bogged down in the permissibility of various theological senses. I'm happy to speak like John Frame and Richard Pratt about the covenantal perspective as well as the election perspective. Both are valid.

    We need more systematics, not less, in order to explain all of this, but we can't get there if folks are simply emoting and building off fictional histories.

    The world of Christian theology is very very big. We've got to learn how to talk to people if we really expect to produce good fruit.

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  27. Well how ever y'all get to the bottom of this amazing discussion...It's pretty funny that the worst thing that you can think to call each other is a Reformed Baptist. Nice to know that I represent the dregs around here.

    The Presbyterian, standing by himself, prayed thus: "God, I thank you that I am not like other Christians, uneducated, under trained, uninformed about the true nature of the New Covenant, or even like this Reformed Baptist.Pleaeaeaease!

    Let me know which flavor of presby you decide has to call me his brother.

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