My Big Fat Hillbilly Baptism

I wonder how much further this series of posts can go?  Albino asks:

Where in the New Testament do you read that only a “minister of the Gospel lawfully ordained” can perform a baptism? Isn’t it more Biblical to say that any believer can baptize any other believer? We usually have the pastor do the baptizing, but I don’t find any Biblical directive to that effect.

The full paragraph in question, with proof-texts, is

There are only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained.  (Matt 28:19, 1 Cor 11:20, 1 Cor 4:1, Heb 5:4)

One purpose of that paragraph is to discount the other 5 RC “sacraments.”  The back part is what is of interest here, and it seems that 1 Cor 4:1 and Heb 5:4 are WCF’s answer to Albino’s question.

Question then, to Echo (or any other confessionalists who might be lurking): if you were faced with somebody that said “I was baptized by immersion, upon profession of faith (by my daddy in our bathtub)”, would they need to be properly baptized to join an OPC/PCA?  (This is not a hypothetical; I know a family that did this — even though they were co-attenders in our Baptistic church)

Question also, to Albino: since you do have the concept of Ordination (and Pastor and Elder), what is it for?  What duties in the church are reserved only for the ordained?  Could I preach at your church?  Could I give communion?  Could I marry someone?

Albino, this reminds me of that time you circulated a recommendation for an intern who was looking for a new church to serve.  I even still have the email:

I had the privilege of giving S. a crash course in Advanced Homiletics (officiating in formal settings).  After studying the material, S. officiated at a communion service, gave a Bible study to baptism candidates, participated in a water baptism service, participated in an actual funeral, performed a mock baby dedication (of our daughter), performed a mock wedding ceremony , and preached at his commissioning service.

My response was; “Mock baby dedication?  Isn’t a baby dedication already a Mock Baptism?”  But your use of the word “mock” indicates that you do see that there is some kind of extra legitimacy that comes with Ordination.

52 Responses

  1. Al says, “We usually have the pastor do the baptizing, but I don’t find any Biblical directive to that effect.”

    Then why do they usually do it? You must have some ground beyond habit or (gasp!) tradition? But if you don’t, are you not guilty of falling back on mere tradition? I mean, aren’t you guys the Bible people, only following the Bible, etc.? If there’s no biblical directive for either baby dedications, or that they should be performed by pastors, why do both happen with such frequency? All I can come up with is that you exercise the traditionalism you are always accusing us of.

    More honest credo-baptists don’t actually practice baby dedications because they don’t see any biblical evidence for it. Baby dedicators are to the baptism debate what “Calminians” are to the soteriological debates. Both Arminians and Calvinsts have no use for this creature who thinks he has found a middle way between two internally consistent systems; in the same way, credo- and paedo-baptists look upon this odd creature who “dedicates” babies as weird way to show his attention to biblical data.

  2. More honest credo-baptists don’t actually practice baby dedications because they don’t see any biblical evidence for it.

    Fair enough. But no church I’m aware of, (neither mine nor albino’s specifically) demands baby dedication, but rather performs it at the request of the parents. Rube calls it a “dry baptism” and the more he talks about it the more I see that connection. In essence the limited representation of your baby baptisms is the same as what takes place in the baby dedications.

    To us the more significant thing, far and away, it baptism.

    The one term that keeps getting thrown around regarding the ordained minister is “lawfully”. Why? what law? the state law? God’s law? What law are we to measure up to with regards to qualifications to baptize?

  3. Baby dedications are generally done after the pattern of what Hannah did when she offered her ‘baby’ to the Lord. It is more of a faith-act that publicly declares a parent’s commitment to train the child in the in the fear and instruction of the Lord as well as to train the child in the way they should go.

    Having said that, we do not do ‘baby dedications’, but we simply ‘welcome’ the child into the community of believers with charges to Dad and Mom regarding their responsibility as a parents of this covenant baby.

    With regards to who can preach in a local community/church, the mere presence of an ordination paper does not in anyway open the door, or qualify someone to preach. Ordination is simply the ‘system’ declaring someone qualified to be a ‘minister’.

    The Lord Jesus is the one who qualifies one to be a minister and what is called ‘ordination’ should simply be a human faith-response to the decision of the Lord.

  4. Daniel said, “But no church I’m aware of, (neither mine nor albino’s specifically) demands baby dedication, but rather performs it at the request of the parents.”

    This even stumped me when I was an unconvinced but pretending-like-mad “member” of credo-baptist environs, and it still makes little sense to me: first, doing something not at all commanded, second on the grounds of a parent’s request. Again, for all the Bible-only speak, I still don’t fathom this. There must be some heartier grounds than “what a parent requests,” unless some really want to open themselves up to a hypothetical like, “A parent requests…an easter egg hunt for the kiddos instead of a sermon…with crosses on the eggs, of course, of course.”


    If it’s the pattern of Hannah argument, how can you possibly deny the pattern of Abraham and the rest of the OT economy? Beyond the fact that what seems clear in your response that a sacrament is human-centered instead of God-centered, if it’s parental commitment that is so important, that was included in the vows of baptism I took and is realized every night after dinner with catechism and every Lord’s Day when we go to church.

    Re the “mere piece of paper argument,” my wife tells me that the marriage certificate and the ring really do count for something. They say we are qualified to be married only to each other and nobody else. And much as I wanted to be, I wasn’t really a teacher until I received the certificate from an accredited institution in the mail. Wives and principals are sticklers that way. Patients are even more hung up on such things about their doctors before their chests get cracked. It would seem to mne that it should be no less true for those who presume to discern the Gospel that dispenses eternal life.

    And, by the way, the Lord Jesus is Lord over marriages, teachers and doctors as well as ministers. He is not the sole property of believers, no matter what the tee shirts say.

  5. Hi everybody.

    “Mock” wedding is simply having two people stand in as a couple to allow someone to learn how to officiate a ceremony. Think of it as a “practice session”, that is not public, but for learning purposes.

    The verses you listed do not explain why water baptism should only be performed by ordained ministers. Are we not all disciples of Christ?

    My reading of the Bible shows that baptism IMMEDIATELY follows repentance and confession of Christ. (“Hey, here’s water — what prevents me from being baptized?”). There aren’t even requirements of “confirmation” or a 4-week class for baptism candidates. It is the immediate response of a person who is saved.

    Are you really serious, Zrim, that you believe that only “lawfully ordained pastors” can preach? Huh?

    A pastor or elder is a shepherd of a group of Christians, responsible for their spiritual growth and correction, and one who “prepares them for works of service” (Ephesians 4), not one who does all the ministry.

    When someone is “ordained”, they are set apart by a local church (and their elders) for full-time service to the body of Christ, and given a document that is recognized by the government as one who can legally marry (and let’s not forget the housing allowance perk with the IRS). But to say that only ordained ministers can preach, teach or baptize, I gotta tell you, that’s a really tough Biblical argument to make.

    As to baby dedications, it is simply an opportunity for a family to bring their new baby before the congregation and have the pastor pray for God to bless the baby’s future and guide the parents to raise the child in the fear of the Lord. Again, the pastor usually prays because he is the shepherd of the local church family, but I don’t have any problem with who says the prayer. Biblically, I would agree with Davie about the Hannah comparison.

    Baptism, on the other hand, is reserved for believers in Jesus and, in the Bible, always follows repentance and a confession of faith.

  6. Al,

    I conceive of “lawfully ordained” to be a churchly phrase, not a civil one. The church says who can teach, preach and baptize, not the magistrate (marriage is a shared matter). If you read me to be saying only he who is recognized by the sheriff can do these things, you’re right, that is a hard argument to make. But I suspect that because you come from a low-church POV the only notion of “lawful” you have is a civil one. But I never once had in mind the sheriff…or his deputy.

  7. I’d like to see a clear New Testament example showing that somebody other than an Apostle or pastor baptized anybody. Good luck with that, and don’t use any “arguments from silence”.

  8. Believe it or not, these two quotes are saying basically the same thing:

    With regards to who can preach in a local community/church, the mere presence of an ordination paper does not in anyway open the door, or qualify someone to preach. Ordination is simply the ’system’ declaring someone qualified to be a ‘minister’.

    I conceive of “lawfully ordained” to be a churchly phrase, not a civil one. The church says who can teach, preach and baptize, not the magistrate

    “Unlawful” would refer to somebody who bucked whatever ‘system’ a (the) church has in place.

  9. The church decides who is ordained, but good luck with getting a marriage license authorized without the signature of an ordained minister.

  10. Rube,

    I guess it depends on what is meant by “ordination papers.” I took it originally to mean something churchly, probably because I assume a category for churchly authority, etc. I should have known that Davie is probably as absent that category as Al and that he means something civil magistrate-y.

    I may be fuzzy on the details of how things work, but I assume that anyone who has “ordination papers,” which I guess per Davie means something bestowed by the civil magistrate, has also been first formally recognized by his religious institution. Maybe that’s not the case with some traditions, but in ours if a man gets into a pulpit it’s because he’s been through the churchly formalities. And his “papers” are churchly.

    Of course, since marriage is grounded in creation our man must get authority from the state first before he can marry. But since preaching-baptizing are grounded in redemption, he needs no such authority; he just needs thr spiritual authority.

  11. But, Al, folks get married by city hall all the time.

  12. Maybe you Californians do it differently, but here in Michigan an ordained minister is fine, but not necessary; we’re very pagan friendly (we even let Mitt Romney, from Bloomfield Hills, run for office)…

    “You need to have a justice of the peace or a religious clergyman sign the document.

    Solemnization Authority: Marriages may be solemnized by any of the following:

    • Federal, probate, district, and municipal judges, and district court magistrates, in their court area;

    • Mayors, in their city;

    • Wayne County clerks;

    • Ministers of the gospel, anywhere in the state, “if the minister is ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usages of the denomination, and is a pastor of a church in this state, or continues to preach the gospel in this state”;

    • Non-resident ministers of the gospel, anywhere in the state, if the minister is authorized to solemnize marriages by his or her state’s laws.”

  13. My reading of the Bible shows that baptism IMMEDIATELY follows repentance and confession of Christ.

    Wow, the naturalistic fallacy is alive and well, not in the philosophy halls, but in American evangelicalism!

    x IS the case, therefore x OUGHT to be the case.

  14. Paul, I thought that’s what natural law says? ;b

  15. Rube,

    If someone was baptized in their bathtub by their father, the biggest question would be, “Was it in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”? If those words were uttered, then the question becomes more difficult. If those words were not uttered, then the issue is resolved. No baptism without those words uttered is valid.

    I would not personally fault a session for accepting such a baptism. It’s a very irregular baptism to be sure. VERY irregular.

    But whether to accept this baptism as valid is a matter of wisdom, not law. I asked a very similar question to this to an OPC minister once, and this is the answer I got.

    Contrary to what Albino seems to want, the Bible doesn’t give us a law for every single possible situation. Contrary to what Calvinists are often accused of, the Bible (even under a Calvinistic interpretation) is not interested in making Christians who are robots and who don’t think for themselves.

    Albino will not restrict the authority to baptize to ministers, because he doesn’t see such a rule in Scripture. But if this is raised to the level of a hermeneutical principle (meaning a principle for biblical interpretation), then the results become quite absurd. For instance, there is nowhere in Scripture where we are commanded to give the Lord’s Supper to women. And since in the OT, only infant boys got the sign of the covenant, since only men sacrificed in the temple, then there’s no reason to give the Lord’s Supper to women. See how silly these kinds of assumptions become?

    Therefore, common sense dictates that not everything is laid out crystal clearly in Scripture. Sometimes we need to look at what Scripture might imply. What can we infer from Scripture? Sometimes this is where we must seek guidance. We ALL DO THIS. We just don’t THINK about it.

    I’ll start a new post for the rest…


  16. You pin a lot on the specific words “In the name of the Father, Son , and Holy Spirit”. Would not the Mormons be able to use those words — although “Son” carries an entirely different meaning?

    I’m assuming you would then qualify with “those words — in a properly trinitarian context”. Which means that, for the purposes of baptism, trinitarian correctness is critical, while justification is not. How about doctrine of historical resurrection? I assume that you have no problem accepting mainline PCUSA baptisms, but it seems that if unitarians are ruled out, so should anti-supernaturalists be.

  17. To look at what ordination is, and what it means and all of that, we need to begin with the category of authority. The first thing we have to ask is, who has the authority to preach the Word of God?

    The first thing that we have to say is that whoever preaches, they ought to know what they’re doing. They ought to have some kind of training. It’s important. Doctors go to school for a very long time before anyone puts their life in their hands. But we put far, far more in the hands of our minister. We put our very souls in their hands, and the souls of our children. All of you who have children, think about this: do you want your minister to know what he’s talking about or not? Do you want him to be faithful to the Word of God or not?

    How often do we hear from unbelievers about how “there’s so many translations! Who could possibly understand what’s right?” Unbelievers understand that for someone to make a claim about knowing how to interpret Scripture, they need to be able to interpret what the original Greek and Hebrew says. After all, translations can be VERY different from one another, and the only way to judge is to be able to interpret what the original says. (And frankly, all translations are pretty bad because of the translation tradition in English, but that’s another matter.)

    So as we build our concept of this person who has authority to preach, the first thing that needs to be built in is that this person needs to be able to interpret the text PROPERLY, which entails AT LEAST being able to read it in the original Greek or Hebrew. Moses and Paul didn’t speak English, folks. Much is lost in translation.

    Anyone who falls short of this simple standard should have no business in the pulpit. None.

    Of course, there’s more to the Bible than just being able to READ it, though that’s a good start.

    One rule that we have, which I think all Christian churches everywhere can agree on, is that Scripture itself interprets Scripture.

    Now, if Scripture is its own best interpreter, then that means that, for example, if we have a hard time interpreting Gen 1, then we can look to other passages that speak on similar subject matter, such as Job 38, Ex 14-15, and John 1:1-18. Those other passages might help explain Gen 1. And vice versa, right? Gen 1 helps us to interpret those other passages as well.

    But if that’s true, then the skilled biblical interpreter must not only be able to read the Bible in the original language, but he must also be very familiar with the Bible. He must have some sort of grasp of the whole, in order to interpret the parts. After all, we believe that there’s ultimately only one author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, right? So the Bible CANNOT contradict itself. If we really believe that the Bible cannot contradict itself, then almost all of Scripture can pretty easily become clear to the one who can read it in the original language, if he has to work a little.

    And this is why the minister should be trained in Systematic Theology. The System is what I mean by the whole. Scripture as a whole puts forth a system. That system is how we understand the whole.

    Oh, now, since he’s said it 1000 times, I’ll say it for him. Albino thinks that any system is bad, because it tries to cram individual verses into an artificial theological grid. In other words, for example, we Calvinists have our theological grid, and whenever we come to a verse that supposedly contradicts our system, we just twist Scripture to make it fit.

    Now, that’s actually not true. We try to have a system that is derived from Scripture, trying to use Scripture to refine our systematic ideas.

    Of course, what Albino does is worse. He has a system, and yet denies that he does, and when he encounters verses that contradict his system of ideas, he merely says that he doesn’t know what the verses mean, and that anyone who claims to is arrogant, as if a claim to understanding Scripture is tantamount to knowing the mind of God.

    But we believe that the Bible was written to people. God knew what he was doing. He wasn’t trying to confuse us. He was trying to be clear. Let me remind you that when Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand the point of the Old Testament in Luke 24, Jesus doesn’t laugh about how his little gag to confuse them worked. No! Far from it! He rebukes them not for their lack of understanding, but for their unwillingness to believe what the Scriptures have said!

    When we encounter Scripture and say that we don’t know what it means, or when we’re WRONG about what it means, there’s only one reason: we don’t want to believe what it says.

    That’s what JESUS says is the problem.

    So there is warrant in Scripture for seeking to understand all of Scripture. Jesus seems to think we can. The only thing standing in our way is our own unbelief. At least, that’s what Jesus says.

    Well, there is one more thing standing in our way, namely the fact that the Bible was written so long ago to cultures very, VERY different than our own. While that does produce some obstacles, they aren’t insurmountable. Of course, that’s just another reason for an educated minister.

    It might also be helpful if the man in the pulpit has a feel for how the church has historically thought about certain verses. What has the church historically condemned as heresy again and again, over and over? Well, perhaps we want to avoid buying into such heresies. Well, what a great reason to study church history.

    Well, there you have it, an apologetic for the seminary curriculum.

    I guess the bottom line is, no seminary, no pulpit. You can’t possibly be able to make a reasonable claim to being able to interpret the Scriptures without having graduated from a decent seminary. Not even possible. Especially if understanding Scripture is as hard as Albino says it is.

    Now, in the opinion of some, what I’ve just said sets the bar too high. In fact, some people think a good education for the minister is actually a bad thing. Yes, we’d hate to have a man that’s TOO sharp in the pulpit. Regular people won’t understand him anymore.

    Well, what a great reason to have preaching classes, where some sharp professor, who perhaps has a PhD in public speaking, can tell you in just what ways your rhetoric is too lofty for regular people!

    Really, seminary just makes sense. That is, if one is to interpret Scripture properly. And that IS in fact what we should want the minister up in the pulpit to do.

    We do want him to be the answer man. We want him to know what he’s talking about. We trust him. He’s given his life to this stuff. He’s gone to seminary, learned lots of things, and he spends all week wrestling with the text and trying to communicate what it says clearly to us, for that is his task. His task is to preach the Word.

    2Tim. 4:1    I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 PREACH THE WORD; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

    Paul’s charge here to Timothy is pretty stinkin’ serious. He charges him before God and Jesus Christ, who by the way is the Judge of the whole world, so you’d BETTER do what he says Timothy or there will for SURE be a price to pay – to preach the word. Don’t add to it, don’t take away from it. Preach the word and only the word. Don’t be like the wicked shepherds of Israel who preached the wicked madness of their own hearts. Preach the word.

    And Ezekiel says:

    Ezek. 13:1   The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ 3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! 4 Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. 5 You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the LORD. 6 They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. 7 Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?”

    More to come…

  18. Rube,

    What you’re getting at is why this becomes thorny, and quick. If you start making restrictions on what churches believe as a condition of whether or not to accept their baptism, then pretty soon the OPC won’t even be accepting baptisms from the PCA, and then we’ll all be like the URC who won’t let reformed baptists take communion in their churches.

    That’s why the OPC wisely restricts it to the words of Matt 28:19. If those words are uttered, we’ll pretty much accept the baptism.

    But as far as what OUR practice is, well, that’s a different story. But you have to be careful saying that someone’s baptism is invalid, when in fact, here they are in front of you making a valid profession of faith. There’s every reason to believe that God used even that irregular baptism to bring them to faith in Christ. Exhibit A: here they are in front of you making a profession of faith. What reason do you have to say that the baptism is invalid? That it wasn’t performed by a minister? That the man who did the baptizing wasn’t truly trinitarian in his heart? But you see, man is not who baptizes: God baptizes us through man’s agency. Ministers are only agents of the work of the Spirit.

  19. Well, so back to what I was saying about, “Who can preach?” I think I’ve made it clear that a seminary education is required, but it’s just a matter of simple common sense, just as a medical degree is required before you practice medicine. If my neighbor felt led to practice medicine and wanted to perform open heart surgery on me, I’d tell him he’d better go to medical school first; I wouldn’t lay down on the table and ask for a shot of whiskey.

    But what if you’re stranded on a deserted island, and no one else is around? Well, ok, fine, you do the best you can. But here in the real world, we have seminaries, and 99% of the church believes in making use of them. It’s only a small minority who think it’s a waste of time.

    Well, ok, you say, does that mean anyone who’s been to seminary should get in the pulpit? Absolutely not! May genoito! (Which is Greek for may it never be. Paul uses it a lot. It’s very emphatic.)

    There are lots of guys who go through seminary and then say, yeah, this isn’t for me. I’m gonna go sell mortgages. Happens all the time.

    But there’s an easy way to crystallize the difference. It has to do with the call, the call of the Holy Spirit. We distinguish between two types of call.

    Internal and external.

    The internal call is like what I have. I know I want to be a minister. No one can tell me I’m not cut out for it, I know I’m cut out for it. The Spirit has called me to the office. But this call is internal, because no one else knows what’s going on inside my heart. I know it, but no one else.

    This kind of thing is, again, common sense in our society. When someone finds that one thing in life that they’re good at AND they really enjoy it, we say that they’ve found their true calling. And this is the same kind of thing that I mean. And in fact, it’s the same Holy Spirit at work. Just as the Spirit calls me to be a minister, so too the Spirit calls the guy down the road to be a car salesman. Of course, it’s a little different. The car salesman is called to that task according to common grace, and me to preaching according to special grace – I think – but whatever. That’s a pretty fine distinction to make, and I’m not all that interested in discovering just what the nature of that distinction might be.

    But the other kind of call we talk about is the external call. That’s when some day, a church gets together and calls me to be their pastor, and the presbytery examines me and passes me. Notice that in the presbyterian church, there are two official ways in which the man’s call to that particular church, to that particular group of people is confirmed. First, those people ask that man to be their pastor. Second, the presbytery (regional body of ministers and elders) test the man, vetting him to see if he is fit for ministry. Once they have tested him, then he is cleared to go be the minister for that congregation.

    That’s the external call. And really, all that means is that people other than me also recognize the call of the Holy Spirit. You see, ordination is really just the church’s recognition of what the Spirit is doing. It is the Spirit who chooses men for the ministry, not the church. The church just recognizes those whom the Spirit has chosen for that task. That’s what ordination is. The church gives their “amen” to the Spirit’s work. And that’s the external call.

    Really, when we talk about internal and external call, we’re not talking about two types of calling so much as two ways of recognizing the Spirit’s call. Internally, I recognize that call. Externally, others recognize that call. But it is also true that when others outside of me recognize that call, then in their “amen” to my internal call, I hear the voice of the Spirit affirming what I already know to be true, assuring me that I’m not wasting my time here…

    More to come…

  20. Now that we’ve got all of that settled, the rest is easy.

    If the above qualifications are necessary for a man to stand in the pulpit, then ok, so be it. Now we recognize the nature of the office of minister. However, what about baptism?

    Well, we believe that baptism is the preached word made visible, tangible. Same with the Lord’s Supper. And it’s not just visible. It’s also the other senses as well. You can feel the water, you can see it splashing. With the Lord’s Supper, you can smell the wine, and even the bread if you’ve got a good sense of smell. You can taste it, ingest it, taste it in your mouth an hour later and remember it and reflect on it.

    In short, preaching is a thing of the ear, for faith comes through hearing. But God in his mercy also gives us food, so to speak, for our other senses, the more to assure us of the truth of the gospel.

    Just as preaching is all about a promise of the forgiveness of sins, so too baptism and the Lord’s Supper preach the same message.

    In non-reformed circles, this gets all distorted. In a reformed church, the message of the sermon is Christ, his person and work. That’s going to be the point of the sermon every single time, because the point of the Scriptures is to testify to Jesus Christ. Every single verse testifies to Christ. As Paul said, “And that rock was Christ”!!! I’m not just making this stuff up. The point of the Bible is to testify to Jesus Christ. Jesus himself said that in John 5:39, and in Luke 24:27. And he said it clearly, in no uncertain terms. But there are a myriad of places we can infer it from.

    So when Paul charged Timothy to “preach the Word”, in one of the most solemn charges in all of Scripture, this is what he means, to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. And that’s what Paul says over and over again is the content of his own preaching (1Cor 1:23, 2:2, Gal 6:14, Col 1:28, cf. Rom 1:16-17, 3:20-28). In fact, the words in Greek, the verbs that are properly translated as “preach” are words that are richer in meaning than simply “preach”. When we think of “preaching” we think of condemnation, hellfire and brimstone. But when the Bible thinks of preaching, it contemplates the clear proclamation of that good announcement that Christ has conquered death through his death on the cross, and God has proven this to all by raising him from the dead. This is GOOD NEWS, which is what the word “euangelo”, which is where we get the word “evangelical” from, means. It means GOOD NEWS. That’s what the gospel is, and that’s what is proclaimed in preaching – ALL PREACHING.

    And this is the message of baptism. Baptism is a water ordeal. It is judicial. In ancient times, in pretty much all cultures, when people wanted to decide if someone was guilty or innocent, and perhaps the evidence was unclear, they’d throw the person into the river. If they floated, the gods had spared them. If they drowned, well, I guess not. Sounds barbaric, but it was actually quite common. They were still doing this in Europe during the inquisition. They’d throw a woman in the local pond and if she drowned, she must have been a witch. The roots of this probably have to do with the flood, or maybe they’ve got a common cause, namely the waters of chaos in the creation account, but I digress.

    The point is, the contact with water indicates that there’s a trial going on. The fact that you come into contact with water and survive symbolizes the fact that God has vindicated you. (And you don’t even have to come into contact with water, as Paul says, the Israelites were baptized in the Red Sea, even though they passed through on dry ground.) This is what baptism means. It’s a statement by God that you’re not guilty.

    Well, it symbolizes that anyway. So it’s a promise of the forgiveness of sins, a proclamation that you won’t be condemned, and it’s based on the person and work of Christ. So you see that in reformed theology, baptism has the same message as the sermon, which is the same message of Scripture.

    So if baptism is the visible word preached, then it only makes sense that the one to do it is the minister who preaches, because he’s undertaking the same task, just in a different way.

    And the Bible says that only those who are “sent” should preach (Rom 10:15). And how clear is it over and over again that those who hold office in the church are called to that position? Paul makes sure to tell us that he was CALLED to be an apostle (Rom 1:1, 1Cor 1:1, etc.) or that he was made an apostle by the will of God (2Cor 1:1, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:1, Col 1:1, etc). Believers also are called to belong to Christ (Rom 1:6-7, 8:28-30, 9:24, 1Cor 1:2, 1:9, Gal 1:6, 1:15, 5:13, Eph 1:18, 4:1, 4:4, Col 3:15, 1Thess 4:7, 2Thess 2:14, 1Tim 6:12, 2Tim 1:9, Heb 9:15, 11:8, Jam 2:7, 1Pet 1:15, 2:9, 2:21, 3:9, 5:10, 2Pet 1:3, Jude 1). So if to be called is to occupy an office, then both apostles have an office and so do all believers have an office. And that office is a calling. You are called to whatever office you hold, whether an apostle or a janitor. Everyone in the kingdom of God is called to wherever they are to be.

    So if someone is to stand before the people of God and declare, “Thus says the Lord…” it better be a man called to that task by the Holy Spirit. Everything in the kingdom of God is all about calling. We are called to certain tasks and equipped for those tasks by the Holy Spirit. That’s how salvation works, that’s how the kingdom works.

    And Rube, about that person who was baptized in their bathtub by their father – why not their mother? Even in that situation, as confused as it is, they still understand that the person who is in authority ought to be the one to do it, the father, not the mother.

    You know, we often pretend that we don’t really know the truth, that we need to be convinced by some crystal clear declaration of Scripture, when the fact is, we already know what to do, we’re just not doing it because we’re sinful.

    Unbelief, says Jesus. And so we conveniently claim that whatever we don’t want to believe isn’t in Scripture. And then when someone explains it to us from Scripture, we say that his theological grid makes him twist Scripture, and when that fails us, we claim he’s arrogant to claim to understand Scripture.

    Ok. Whatever. Unbelief.

  21. Shouldn’t the words you use to baptize be “Patros, huio, hagio pnuematos”

    I mean why learn the Greek if you’re not even going to be consistent and baptize in the original language?

    Plus this would guard against that unedumacated hillbillies baptizing his kiddo.

    As for the whole seminary being a given…

    It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

    I have a really difficult time reading a scripture like that and then saying something like…

    I’ve made it clear that a seminary education is required, but it’s just a matter of simple common sense, just as a medical degree is required before you practice medicine.

    I don’t know where my doctor got her medical degree. I’ve never bothered to check. In fact, I haven’t been to the doctor for anything in years.

    What is more, I usually don’t go to a doctor for ailments but instead I trust herbal remedies and practices like chiropractic and acupuncture.

    My insurance won’t cover it because they don’t believe it works, but the funny thing is, I get better through it.

    My acupuncturist never went to medical school but he still helps take away my physical pain. How crazy is that?

  22. Ron said: Paul, I thought that’s what natural law says? ;b

    Me: Well, Ron, first off, that’s not what it says. Can you doccument your claim with any primary references from sophisticated NL advocates? I was under the impression that you were choosing to not show yourself a workman approved by God and actually read the works of those you critique. Second, I was under the impression that I corrected you on this in those email exchanges. If you finally have a reply, I’d be pleased to read it.

    Your critique is about at the level of this: Since you think that because of the *fact* that God “said it,” that means we *ought* to do it?

  23. dBalc, regarding your Philippians reference, you’ve got apples and oranges here. Motives (Phil 1:15-16) versus qualifications (2 Tim 2:15). And it didn’t take going to Seminary to see that.

    I am glad that in God’s providence you’ve never suffered any affliction greater than what a chiropractor or an acupuncturist can treat. That may change.

  24. I’m not following your last sentence, Paul. Perhaps you can help be distinguish between NL and NF.

    I was more joking then wanting to get into another discussion with you on this, hence the “;b”.

    I admit I haven’t read much on the topic. I have read Calvin and I find him to be inconsistent, appealing to Special Revelation to support the validity of Natural Revelation. I think if he lived in our day, he would be less cavalier about how the civil magistrate goes about enforcing the Ten Commandments. His position seems to be “whatever works”, which is obviously fallacious since killing everyone “works”.

  25. er “help *me* distinguish…”
    “joking *than*…”

    possibly more… That’s what I get for posting in haste at work…

  26. Hey Echo; just to let you know, I have now read your 3-part dissertation above on the role of seminary and internal/external call in establishing authority to preach and administer sacraments.

    I don’t want to threadjack into a side-discussion, but your advocacy of seminary reminds me of a concept I recently heard of, which is that instead of going to seminary, a student should have something like an apprenticeship with an actual pastor, living in his home, studying under him, etc. I assume this would end in the same kind of presbytery examination as we have now, for “Quality Assurance”. I guess whatever benefits an apprenticeship type of system might offer, you would partly get just by being an intern under a pastor, while in seminary.

  27. Bruce,

    Sure, sure, I know it’s an apples and oranges comparison and yet I think there is till a tremendous amount of application within Paul’s statement. I.e. that he wouldn’t bother checking out the validity of a guys diploma provided he’s hearing the gospel preached. Heck what did Paul say about his own diplomas later on in Philippians?

    As for II Timothy 2:15 “do your best” equating to seminary education seems like a stretch.

    Or perhaps you mean “correctly handle” to which I completely agree. But again the seminary guarantees nothing.

    As for the medical aspect of my comment…
    I have so many problems with the American medical system and the way that it is run we’d have to open a whole new thread. But the fact that “seminary or nothing” advocates keep bringing it up as some form of proof to their point does allow for me to rant a bit (as well as bring it back to my original verse reference).

    Doctors are in the pocket of the drug companies. The drug companies lavish them with gifts from free lunch to trips to Hawaii and everything in between. Why? so that the doctors will prescribe their drugs.

    The more money gets involved the more tempted even good doctors become to do what is not necessarily best for their patients but what is best for their pocketbooks.

    I don’t completely blame the docs however because they had to pay so much money to get all the training to become MD’s.

    So the vicious circle of well meaning folks going deep into debt in order to help people and then finding a quicker way out of debt by offering slightly less in their help will keep continuing.

    If that’s true in the medical world and that certain seminarians want to be compared to doctors then they gotta take the lumps along with it.

    My short accusation is that seminaries are overpriced to pay the high salaries of professors who need a high salary because they went so deep into debt to get themselves a seminary degree.

    Scathing I know, but look, it happened in the medical field and that’s what seminarians want to be compared to.

    Now let me be clear. I am not accusing all doctors or all seminarians of corruption. No, no, no. I honestly believe most of them to be well meaning and honest about their motivations.

    But what I am advocating is a wholesale slashing of seminary AND medical school costs. Make it affordable for the masses. In fact make it almost impossible to have to go into debt over (since debt, according the scriptures is not wise)

    Oh but then you would have to sacrifice the quality of the education because the best professors get paid the most and if you’re not charging much then you can’t afford to pay as much.

    Why? What makes them the best? Um, their degree?

    While i can kind of buy this argument with Doctors, though I can’t deny the corruption, I am having a really difficult time buying it with those who study the Bible for a living.

  28. I am glad that in God’s providence you’ve never suffered any affliction greater than what a chiropractor or an acupuncturist can treat. That may change

    The other thing that God, in his providence did, was to make me wise unto salvation via men and women who never once stepped foot into a seminary class room.

  29. Ron, since we’re off topic this will be my last reply so we don’t take over the combox.

    Ron: “I’m not following your last sentence, Paul. Perhaps you can help me distinguish between NL and NF.”

    Paul: I’m not sure what you want distinguished. One is a fallacy and the other is an approach to ethics. The “Natural” part in “Natural Law” is a *normative* claim regarding how things *should* work. Hence there are values right from the start.

    My last sentence was meant to see how you didn’t start with a *descriptive* claim and move to a *normative* one. The answer you should give is that God’s speech carries or is normative. One could apply my critique to God’s character. Aren’t you saying that because of the *fact* of God’s character, since x is *in fact* opposed to God’s character that, therefore, we *ought* not x?

    I was drawing out the simplistic categories you were operating at. You were operating at a high level of abstraction. That sometimes leads to carelessness wrt the details.

    Ron: “I think if he lived in our day, he would be less cavalier about how the civil magistrate goes about enforcing the Ten Commandments. His position seems to be “whatever works”, which is obviously fallacious since killing everyone “works”.

    Paul: I’d be more in line with Frame and other ethicists. The above is too simplistic. This is God’s world, not a simplistic, cookie cutter world. Thus I think taking into account the situation is a valuable approach to ethics. It may be a necessary *but not* sufficient aspect of ethical reasonming and decision making. If something is truly good, is should have a good outcome. …of course I deny that his “position” can be boiled down to “whatever works,” especially given his comments re: voluntarism and God’s will.

    See esp.Institues, book III. xxiii. 2; I.xvii.2

    Calvin, “Replies,” in A Doctrine of the Secret Providence of God (1558) in Calvin’s Calvinism: Treatises on the Eternal Predestination of God and the Secret Providence of God, tr. Henry Cole (Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1987), p. 266, Ibid., p. 247; ibid., p. 248.

    Calvin, Sermon on Job 23:1-7

    Hope that helped…

  30. Daniel,

    I think your counter argument is pretty weak.

    First, you say that Paul’s not irritated about people who aren’t educated, but are actually preaching Christ. He’s just glad Christ is preached.

    Granted. GRANTED!!! And whole heartedly! The problem is that those who aren’t seminary educated DON’T KNOW HOW TO PREACH CHRIST, but continually shovel out a bunch of moralistic drivel about how to balance your checkbook!!! It’s NOT the gospel, it’s NOT Christ they’re preaching! Notice that Paul’s not irritated because these people are preaching Christ. But notice he doesn’t say that they don’t know how to read Hebrew. Notice he doesn’t say that they have no idea what the Bible says. Notice he doesn’t say anything like what YOU WANT HIM TO SAY. Notice all he says is that their motives are impure. But their content is solid. So Paul doesn’t complain.

    MY complaint, which is completely DIFFERENT, is that people aren’t preaching Christ. And they’re not preaching Christ, because they can’t even READ the Bible!!!

    So if you want to raise an objection to my argument, raise an objection that actually addresses my argument.

    I know I’m coming across here as harsh and overly argumentative, and I don’t mean to. I’m short fused lately, and this is probably the one thing that I’m MOST passionate about – understandably. And I understand that you’re reacting the way you are, because my words amount to a charge against you that you don’t belong in the pulpit. I understand that’s how you’re taking it. And I would not dissuade you from that interpretation. That’s the logical consequence of what I’m saying, and I’m fine with that.

    Second, your argument that sometimes you go to the chiropracter instead of the doctor is silly. That has nothing at all to do with what we’re talking about.

    We’ll see if you still don’t care about a medical degree when you get cancer or some other life threatening illness. Where will you go when you have a heart attack and your life is on the line? To the chiropractor????!!!!! I think not. You’ll want to go to the hospital, where they have degrees. Don’t be foolish.

    And finally, your bit about saying the words of institution for baptism in Greek…well, that’s even sillier.

    But look, don’t get all offended and bent out of joint because of what I’ve said. I’m not your judge. God is your only judge. I stand by what I said. If you disagree, disagree. But your objections are foolish and childish. I would have expected a more dignified response out of you. Your quote of Scripture was a decent attempt, but you’re stretching that passage to mean way more than it clearly says. If this is the best you can come up with to justify yourself, then you might want to take a harder look in the mirror.

    I’m sorry, I know that’s harsh, and I know it appears unloving and all that, but frankly, I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I let you get away with your outlandish claims.

    If you can’t read the Bible properly in the original languages, you can’t make a serious claim to being able to interpret it with precision. If that’s the case, then you don’t belong in the pulpit. It’s crystal clear.

    If you disagree, that’s fine. You’re the one who will answer to God. I’ve told you what the Bible makes clear. My conscience is clear.

  31. Rube,

    what you’re talking about is what the Rabbi’s used to do. It sounds good and all, but the fact is, pastors don’t have that kind of time to give to an intern. They’re very busy as it is. So while it may be nice, it’s not practical.

    But what’s more, it ignores the fact that in seminaries we have men who are specialists in certain areas, men who are better educated than a pastor. They are the doctors of the church. They are more knowledgable than pastors are, and can do a better job training men in things like the languages and theology than a pastor can.

    The internships we do serve to refine the intern beyond what seminary can do, giving him some hands on training. And that time is invaluable; it’s just not a proper replacement for seminary.


  32. Daniel,

    You said: “Heck what did Paul say about his own diplomas later on in Philippians?”

    Echo: Oh, that’s RIGHT!!! He said the LESS you know about the text of Scripture, the better off you are, and the more equipped you are to preach!!!

    Paul got his seminary education, so to speak, from Christ himself. And Paul talks about it in Gal 1:11ff. And far from saying that it doesn’t matter, he uses this as proof of his credibility to preach. Furthermore, he went to Arabia to study for 3 years.

    He does indeed count his training in Judaism as rubbish, but that’s in comparison to knowing Jesus. And if I had the choice between knowing Jesus and going to seminary, believe me, I’d make the same statement. Seminary’s WORTHLESS compared to knowing Christ.

    But that doesn’t mean seminary’s worthless period. Nor does Paul find his training in Judaism completely worthless either, which is why he talked about it. His training in the OT is VERY important, which is why he became such an effective apostle. He was able to understand the gospel as well as he did because he probably memorized most of the OT if not all of it growing up as a Jew! He made use of that training continually when he quoted from the OT in his letters.

    There can be no such thing as a justification of an anti-intellectual refusal to be as well trained in biblical interpretation as possible. How can you possibly say that you’ve done the BEST job you could possibly do when you interpret Scripture, when you haven’t gotten all the training available to you, when in fact you’ve scorned it?

    Prov. 1:7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    1 Tim 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

    Yes, that’s the King James Version. It’s a very good translation of this passage. Of course, you’ll have to take my word for it…

    And you said: “But again the seminary guarantees nothing.”

    Echo: now THAT’S TRUE. And I’ve already affirmed that, by the way. But here’s something that IS guaranteed. If you DON’T go to seminary, you’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. And that’s exactly what God will say to you on Judgment Day. “Why didn’t you go to seminary?” If you don’t think he will, that’s fine. You’ll see that I’m right about that one way or the other, either the easy way or the hard way.

    You said: “The more money gets involved the more tempted even good doctors become to do what is not necessarily best for their patients but what is best for their pocketbooks.”

    Echo: you seem to think that there’s an argument against seminary education here. Your claim seems to be that being better educated in the Word of God, being taught how to properly interpret it, is necessarily going to make you greedy.

    Your argument is nonsensical. But I’ll tell you what. The longer you persist in ministry, the more you’re going to face the temptation to preach what people want to hear. You probably have already succumbed to it. I have…

    But you’re even less equipped than I am to deal with it, because you’re one step removed from the truth of the text. It’s hidden to you in ancient symbols you don’t understand. So you’re dependent on the translators – whose theology is guaranteed to be different than your own – to tell you how to interpret the text, because the first step of interpretation is translation.

    You’re making yourself even MORE vulnerable to succumb to the temptation to give people what they want to hear, in order to bring more people in the doors, to put more money in your pocket. You’re weakening yourself before you even begin, because you aren’t properly equipped for the task. And what’s more, you KNOW IT. And you have the nerve to defend it.

    But that’s alright. You can explain yourself to God. He’s your judge, not me.

    You said: “My short accusation is that seminaries are overpriced to pay the high salaries of professors who need a high salary because they went so deep into debt to get themselves a seminary degree.”

    Echo: your short accusation is baseless and founded upon your own ignorance. My seminary education is costing a lot less than a master’s degree at a public university, not to mention a private university. In fact, my tuition is about the same it was for me as an undergrad at a public university.

    And our professors don’t make much.

    And our pastors, at least in my denomination, don’t make much at ALL. I bet you make more than the average OP pastor.

    But I won’t lie, the costs are still pretty significant, and I won’t be making enough money to pay for it, and it weighs on me. In fact, it’s a constant sore spot for me (so I’m really glad you brought it up).

    But it’s a cost I have no choice but to pay. I have no choice but to be consigned to a life of relative poverty. That’s just part of the deal. There are no rich OP pastors. That’s just a fact.

    But at least I have been taught to be true to the text, and I can interpret the text, and I will be continually confronted by the text.

    But you, you haven’t been trained, and aren’t equipped, and as such, aren’t confronted, and as such, will probably succumb to temptation that I know for a fact is incredibly powerful. I hope not, but I have no reason to be optimistic. I’m sorry.

  33. Daniel,

    You said: “The other thing that God, in his providence did, was to make me wise unto salvation via men and women who never once stepped foot into a seminary class room.”

    Echo: I have a friend that became a Christian as a direct result of the 9/11 attacks. So, does that mean those attacks were a good thing?

    In fact, it was their very nature as EVIL that my friend became a Christian. The attack proved to him that there was true evil in the world, and thus he began to search for God, because he realized he was evil and needed redemption. Good and evil became real to him because of the EVIL of the 9/11 attacks.

    The fact that God used the 9/11 attacks to bring my friend to Christ doesn’t make the 9/11 attacks good, it means that God is merciful.

    The fact that you can claim to have true faith in Christ – if it is in fact the result of the preaching of non-seminary trained folks, doesn’t justify not going to seminary, it justifies God, who can use whatever means he wills to bring you to himself. After all, your salvation is HIS doing, not yours, not your pastor’s. But that in no way means it’s ok to be ignorant of what the Bible teaches.

    God used a donkey to rebuke the prophet’s madness as well, but I don’t see you putting a donkey in your pulpit.

    This stuff isn’t rocket science Daniel.

  34. Daniel,

    By the way, if your excuse for not going to seminary is actually money, then I’ll simply laugh in your face. If you aren’t willing to go into debt in order to do everything you can to keep from preaching heresy to God’s little sheep, then you obviously haven’t counted the cost of the ministry, and you don’t have any right to be in the pulpit for two reasons instead of just one.

    I’m sorry for being harsh, but I can’t help it. You’ve got it coming. I doubt I’ll change your mind, but so far, being kind hasn’t worked. You’ve only given foolishness in return for common sense arguments, because you don’t want to hear that you’re not qualified to be in the pulpit. Well, better I tell you the truth now and you listen, and save yourself from learning the hard way.

    I really am convinced I’m speaking to you in this way with your best interests at heart.


  35. Paul, I know you said you wouldn’t comment again in this box, so maybe we can talk about this some other time.

    To support what I understood as Calvin’s “whatever works” penology, I would point to Institutes 4:20:16 where Calvin states,

    “Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim [of upholding the moral law], and restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or from each other.”

    Again, killing everyone could be toward the aim of upholding the moral law because no one would be left to break it.

    And when we talk about this some other time, perhaps you can help me better understand the distinction between a Natural Law “norm” and a Naturally Fallacious “what is”.

  36. Echo,

    I agree that a pastor should be properly trained and especially in the original languages. I do think that some common sense arguing and logical inferences are valid, and that’s what you’ve provided is mostly that.

    I’d like to see a little more scriptural support for formal training.

    As far as money goes, that is not a reason at all for someone to be lacking in seminary training. There are free ones out there. Take a look at the these two:

    And then do a Google search for “john frame proposal for a new seminary”

    Having sat underneath pastor’s trained and untrained, I would NEVER subject my family to the untrained again.

    Blessings to all!


  37. Ron,

    That’s an absurd reading of Calvin! lol

    Ron, I thought I did that. ‘Natural’ in ‘Natural law’ is not about going outside and looking at ‘nature,’ it’s a normative claim about how things should be, about proper function.

    There’s nothing to understand except (a) you’re equivocating on nature and (b) it’s a definitional thing. The very meaning or understanding of ‘natural’ in ‘natural law’ is normative.

    And, again, you’re misisng out on that little annoying detail that this isn’t a materialistic world, a world where ‘nature’ is some kind of ‘mechanism.’ The deist in you is coming out. Rather, the worldview we find in th epages of Scripture is one where one can look at ants to see how one should work. One can look at flowers and see how one should trust God to provide for them. One can look at the fact of man-as-imago dei and see how one should act.

    Look at how God puts flies in your theonomic ointment!

  38. Paul,

    I always laugh when people appeal to special revelation to prove the validity of “Natural Law Theory”. It’s like the atheist who appeals to reason in an attempt to disprove the only basis for reason. If Natural Law Theory is sufficient to support ethics, then why can’t it support itself? Why the appeal to special revelation? I thought the purpose of Natural Law Theory was to accommodate for the insufficiency of special revelation?

    I am not equivocating at all. I never said “‘Natural law’ is about going outside and looking at ‘nature'”. I understand your use of the word “normative”. What I don’t understand, and *what you have yet to establish*, is how that which is “normative” is distinct from than that which merely “is”. Who gets to decide what is “normative” and what standard is appealed to in order to support a claim that such and such is “normative” Polls? Statistics? What? Ants eat each other. This is normative. Should this norm be used to support human cannibalism? If we should look at the ants to see how we should work, why not look at the ants to see how we should eat?

    And as far as my reading of Calvin goes, how is it “absurd”? He says we should not object to *any* laws that uphold the moral Law, even if they are different than Jewish Laws. How is that not “whatever works”?

  39. Thinking on this more, I find this “absurd”:

    ‘Natural law’ is not about going outside and looking at ‘nature,’…

    one can look at ants to see how one should work. One can look at flowers and see how one should trust God to provide for them.

    Are you testing me, Paul? :)

  40. Of course, if you disregard the inherent equivocations, I see your problem.

    The two comments were aimed at underwritting two different claims.

  41. Ron,

    “Lauhter” isn’t normally considered a cogent argument.

    Of course, as was obvious, the appeal to Scripture was an appeal to show Ron that the Christian worldview doesn’t offer a mechanistic view of the world.

    I mena, maybe I’ll just “laugh” when “theonomists” ignore Scripture contrary to their position. But, maybe Ron’s consistent. Can’t you all wait ’til heaven when Ron rips ole king David a new one for committing the naturalistic fallacy!

    Haw, haw, haw.

  42. Btw, these two claims are logically consistent:

    [1] Scripture affirms natural law.

    [2] The OT Mosaic judicial laws are not the standard of the civil magistrate today (er, even *back then* when Israel was booted from the land).

    Since [1] and [2] are consistent, will Ron laugh at himself?

  43. Paul. You keep dodging questions. I guess I’ll just have to repeat them.

    What I don’t understand, and *what you have yet to establish*, is how that which is “normative” is distinct from than that which merely “is”. Who gets to decide what is “normative” and what standard is appealed to in order to support a claim that such and such is “normative” Polls? Statistics? What? Ants eat each other. This is normative. Should this norm be used to support human cannibalism? If we should look at the ants to see how we should work, why not look at the ants to see how we should eat?

  44. Ron: What I don’t understand, and *what you have yet to establish*, is how that which is “normative” is distinct from than that which merely “is”.

    Paul: I answered that, don’t you remember?

    Ron: Who gets to decide what is “normative”.

    Paul: No one just “decides” what is normative, Ron. Not even God. I’m not a voluntarist, and naive Divine Command Theories are retarded.

    If God made us all asexual, would “~homosexuality” be one of the laws God gave us?

    Ron also forgets that the OT represents a moral *basement* rather than a moral ceiling.

    Ron doesn’t want to be sophisticated in his reasoning.

    Ron: what standard is appealed to in order to support a claim that such and such is “normative” Polls? Statistics? What?

    Paul: Depends in what sphere you’re asking about, Ron. Crackers in the pantry fallacy.

    Oh, btw, what standard is apealed to in order to support which logic is normative or correct?

    Ron: Ants eat each other. This is normative.

    Paul: Who said?

    Ron: Should this norm be used to support human cannibalism?

    Paul: Have you stopped beating your wife?

    Ron: If we should look at the ants to see how we should work, why not look at the ants to see how we should eat?

    Paul: Ask God why he said the one and not the other.

    Or, perhaps we can let all see your ever-so sophisticated reasoning:

    If we ook in pantries to see what’s in there, why not look in space to see if God is there?

    Anyway, this is a firt. Never thought I’d see a theonomist take issue with God’s word.

    Again, I have answered all of Ron’s qestions. I do this every single time. He never answers my questions, though. If he desn’t like them, he just ignores them.

    Ron thinks I need to run to OT Israel for my standard for political norms, yet he doesn’t run to the Bible for *other* norms.

    A more clear case of special pleading has never been seen.


  45. Paul, I cannot find your answer to the question as to how to make a distinction between a norm and what merely is. If I missed your answer, please direct me to it.

    I’m not taking issue with God’s word. I am taking issue with the exclusion of God’s word as the basis of morality.

    You said,

    Ask God why he said the one and not the other.

    But God *did* say “the other”. Isn’t general revelation part of what God has said?

    My point is that one cannot simply look at the ants and be instructed on how to act, as you implied earlier. General revelation alone is insufficient for life in the creation. Special revelation is necessary for us to understand general revelation.

  46. Ron,

    A norm is a prescription, an ‘is’ is simply a description.

    A norm is how a thing out to be, a description is how it is.

    A norm is about proper function, an ‘is’ is about simply how something is functioning.

    For example, the statement that ‘ a healthy adult human heart’s proper function is to beat at (roughly) 72 beats per minute, is normative. The claim that a particular heart beats at 65 bpm, is descriptive.

    One is about what the design plan calls for flourishing, the other is a fact and points to dysfunction.

    Natural law is similar. There is a telos or a design plan God created nature according to, among other things, this normative plan specifies how something ought to properly function if it is to flourish *as intended* (another normative claim).

    I’m not taking issue with God’s word. I am taking issue with the exclusion of God’s word as the basis of morality.

    The NL theory I follow can agree to this claim, especially since it is sufficiently vague.

    At any rate, are you arguing that because it *is* the case that Scripture says x, it ought to be?

    Or, are you saying that the claims reflect God’s character? If so, isn’t God’s character “the basis” of morality?

    But God *did* say “the other”. Isn’t general revelation part of what God has said?

    General revelation is not part of what God has “said.” I’m not even sure why you’d say such a thing. Do you hear your front lawn talking to you, Ron/ Perhaps you should sek help?

    All God’s saying is revelatory, the converse isn’t true. Just like all dogs are animals doesn’t mean all animals are dogs.

    My point is that one cannot simply look at the ants and be instructed on how to act, as you implied earlier.

    Again, Ron takes issue with God’s word.

    God is the one who said, “Consider the ant…” or “Consider the flowers…”

    I’m unclear as to why I have to continue to repeat myself:

    Ron, I do not hold to a Cartesian view of the natural order whereas everything that is not ‘soul’ is some kind of mere machine. The biblical worldview is that there is a purpose imbeded into everything. A telos. This is why Jesus said that if the people were silenced the rocks would cry out ‘hosanna.’ Really? Creation would cry out “Save us now!”? Wow, that would imply that something is not *right* with *creation*. if something is not *right* with creation, then it must not be functioning properly. If nature can function properly, then there’s a normative aspect there.

    General revelation alone is insufficient for life in the creation. Special revelation is necessary for us to understand general revelation.

    Again, this is sufficiently vague that I can agree with it, and so can Christian NL theorists.

    But as soon as you put meat on the skeleton, you have problems.

    “life in the creation” is vague. “understand” is vague.

    That light exhibits particle and wave properties is part of “general revelation.” Do you need “Special Revelation” to “understand” that?

    What about my repeated questions about logics?

    What verse can resolve my questions?

    Ron, I appreciate your zeal, but it is one that is definitely without knowledge. It’s rather Appalachian mountain. The kind of naive position I’d expect someone with one tooth to spout.

  47. Paul,

    What’s the hottest pickup line in the Appalachian’s?

    “Nice tooth, cous.”


  48. I call a truce between Ron and Paul. (Hey, if you put them together, you get Ron Paul).

    Anyway, Paul often says he’s tired of this conversation, and uninterested. But somehow he keeps getting pulled in. I have to take that as some think in Paul that makes him do it.

    Ron is constantly challenging the various views espoused, and often times is interacting with Paul specifically.

    Both of them have made claims that their questions aren’t being answered.

    Maybe it would be fruitful if the two of them agreed to have a very slow conversation on a post somewhere on their biggest disagreement. Or maybe the latest one. Like in this case, Ron is challenging NLT.

    Rules of the ‘discourse’ could be something like the following:

    1. 1st party states a simple premise. Something so simple following a basic form even (All ‘a’ is ‘b,’ or No ‘a’ is ‘b,’ etc.)

    2. 2nd party responds with a stipulation or disagreement. If a stipulation, then a rewording of the premise, restricted in length, say 5 sentences at the most, 50 word max? If disagreement, then same thing.

    3. 1st party rebuts or clarifies.

    (2 & 3 for the express purpose of making sure the two are not speaking pas each other or equivocating. Crucial to the success of such a conversation would be a commitment to each other that each would try and see the other’s point.)

    4. Minimum of one day goes by

    5. Party’s switch places and start over.

    So by starting so simply, little by little arguments can be built and become more complex.

    Anyway, I don’t expect Paul to want to play. He’s going to school and can probably school both of us in theonomy, being that he was one of the best proponents of it for many years in our little blog world. So I’m not sure what benefit Paul would get out of it, except that maybe he’d finally get the satisfaction he obviously seeks in trying to answer Ron over and over again.

    Good Night all!


  49. I’d endorse the concept of a truce, except if Paul stops wasting (his and) Ron’s time, then I have to!

    Maybe it would be fruitful

    I gave up on that a long time ago; I think it was approximately Jul 18, 2008, at 4:00pm.

  50. The title of this post begs to have the video of Alec Baldwin baptizing Spencer Pratt in a jungle river in Ecuador during the filming of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” posted. Enjoy…or not.

  51. Nice! I’ll have to check that out at home!

  52. Well, well, well. Yet another video to add to our little collection in this thread.

    Muddy Water

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