Another Question For Calvinists

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by drfuss, Jan 7, 2007.

  1. drfuss

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    In the book entitled "4 Views on Eternal Security", Dr. Michael S. Horton of Westminister Theological Seminary and Editor of Modern Reformation Magazine, presents the Classic Calvinists viewpoint.

    On page 37, he states the following: "Covenant theology can integrate both sets of proof texts precisely because it recognizes a third category besides "saved" and "unsaved": the person who belongs to the covenant community and experiences thereby the work of the spirit through the means of grace, and yet is not regenerate."

    Two questions:

    1. Is this third category accepted by all 5 point Calvinists?

    2. When and how does a Calvinist know that he is part of the elect and not just a part of this third category?

    No debate intended here, this is just for Calvinists.
     
  2. Tom Butler

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    1. No. Dr. Horton is describing Covenant Theology, a view held by many Presbyterian Calvinists. A Presby can more adequately discuss it, but as I undertand it, this third category applies mainly to children until they are old enough to understand and exercise true repentance and faith. I do not know any Baptists Calvinists who share this view, although there may be some.

    2. Anyone, Calvinist or not, will come to understand that he is elect after salvation, but I don't believe anyone can know before that.
     
  3. russell55

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    No. What you have from Michael Horton is the Presbyterian view of covenant theology. The Baptist view of covenant theology is different, as Baptists see only believers as belonging to the covenant. That's why Baptists baptize only believers: only believers are in the covenant. Presbyterians (and Reformed Anglicans, Christian Reformed, and other reformed paedobaptists) baptize infants because they believe the children of believers are in the covenant as part of the covenant community even before they believe.

    And some 5 pointers aren't covenant theologians at all. They may be dispensationalists or New Covenant theologians.

    First of all, there really is no third category for Baptist Calvinists. But for a paedobaptsist, belief is proof of election. Until someone believes, there is no absolute assurance of election.
     
  4. whatever

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    The key words here IMO are "covenant theology". This language is used a lot by paedo-baptists, and is typically (but not exclusively) used in reference to children who have been baptized and are therefore part of "the covenant community" but who have not expressed faith or their own yet. There are some paedos who presume that baptized infants are regenerate as a result of that baptism, unless at some future time they fall away, but I think this is a minority view.

    I do not know of any calvinistic baptists who speak this way.
     
  5. swaimj

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    a person can experience the work of the spirit through the means of grace and yet not be regenerate?

    Could we have an example of this? I would like to hear this concept fleshed out.
     
  6. russell55

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    You're asking Baptists to answer for Presbyterians. :smilewinkgrin:

    Here's kind of sort of what I think they'd say. Being raised in a Christian home where the gospel and Christian truths are taught through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and belonging, with your family, to a church, where the Spirit is also working and you will also be taught, is a means of grace to a child. They will be exposed to the gospel, they will know about Christ, they will be protected from some things, etc. These are advantages to them that come from belonging to the "covenant community", and because the Spirit is at work in the covenant community.

    Where is it that it says that the children of one believing parent is set apart or sanctified? 1 Corinthians 7? Anyways, it's this passage, perhaps along with others, that is used to support this idea.
     
  7. Jim1999

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    Tom Butler points out an important distinction regarding Calvinistic Baptists. This is a distinction not often made in here when debating Calvinism. We, as Baptists, are different. We make different claims when we borrow the term "Calvinism". We surely agree on the 5 points, but separate on many other Calvinistic concepts, including ecclessiology.

    Often we define covenant theology to suit our own set of scriptural beliefs. We do not try to adapt "covenantal baptism", but we agree that a covenant is made between believing parents that the child will be raised in the believing atmosphere, and eventually we claim that child in the Lord Jesus. His confession of individual faith is yet to be made.

    Now, as to Church of England viewpoint on baptism, I was taught that infant baptism removed the stain of original sin, and did not provide the eventual act of grace required in eternal redemption. This was to come with Confirmation, when one was to realize the Christ as one's Saviour; a personal decision, and required for eternal salvation. It was the covenant of Abraham, continued in the Israel of God, the church. This then, might be considered an act of grace without the eternal redemptive qualities of mature selection.

    In Baptist circles, we want to see that person make a defined selection, in what we call a conversion experience.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    1 Cor 7 talks of unbelieving spouses being sanctified by believing ones.

    I think Horton is off his rocker on this one.
     
  9. webdog

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    I think the story about Abimelech in Genesis 20 is just that.
     
  10. MB

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    Hi swaimj;
    Everytime we see another Saved and watch the changes of that person. We are witnessing the work of the Spirit and I would say that it is by Grace, that we see it.
    MB
     
  11. drfuss

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    WOW!!!

    I had no idea there was so much difference in Calvinism.

    Dr. Horton does mention children as covenant partakers, but he also mentions others. I wish I could present paragraphs and pages here for your comments. Here is another sentence he used in debating against other beliefs that you may find interesting: "Neither the dispensationalisst nor the nondispensationalist Arminian has any category for this person who enjoys the benefits of the covenant but falls away from its reality."

    Dr. Geisler, who presented what I call the Non-Calvinist eternal security position in the book, makes a strong point that Classical Calvinists do not know for sure that they are a part of the elect until they have persevered to the end. In Dr. Horton's comments on Dr. Geisler's position, he did not openly refute this uncertainity, but made vague comments and referred back to the Covenant Theology part of Dr. Horton's paper. This is the reason I asked question #2 in the original OP.

    IMO, the vagueness of Dr. Horton's position about assurance of being in the elect, shows some similarity to conditional security.
     
  12. drfuss

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    Russell55 writes:
    "What you have from Michael Horton is the Presbyterian view of covenant theology. The Baptist view of covenant theology is different, as Baptists see only believers as belonging to the covenant. That's why Baptists baptize only believers: only believers are in the covenant. Presbyterians (and Reformed Anglicans, Christian Reformed, and other reformed paedobaptists) baptize infants because they believe the children of believers are in the covenant as part of the covenant community even before they believe. And some 5 pointers aren't covenant theologians at all. They may be dispensationalists or New Covenant theologians."

    Is the Baptist view clearly defined? Are there different Baptist views of Calvinism? If so, what are the differences?
     
  13. russell55

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    I suppose it is people who join into the church, who are active in it, and yet prove themselves not to have been genuine believers.

    I don't know how he's using the word Arminian here. Most Arminians I know would say that that sort of person was saved and then unsaved themselves by falling away. They jumped, so to speak, from the Saviours hand. I suppose you could call them the previously saved, if one were making categories for Arminians.

    Calvinistic Baptists, whether dispensational, new covenant or covenant, would probably say that these are professed Christians, or members of the visible but not the invisible Church, or so-called brother (or sister) like Paul does in 1 Corinthians 5.

    I'm a classical Calvinist, and I have assurance because I see the hand of God working within me: I love God, I love my brothers and sisters, I am new creation. We know God finishes the work he starts, and there is evidence that he has started working. Perserverance, of course, is also proof of salvation, but it's not the only proof. I think on this one Geisler doesn't know what he's talking about. We know we have eternal life by the signs that John gave in 1st John.

    What we can't have is false assurance that just because we claim to believe (or because at some time we made a profession of faith) we are saved.


    I find Michael Horton really hard to understand in almost everything he writes, and his viewpoints are pretty hard-core presbyterian. If I were editor of that book, he wouldn't be my first choice for someone to represent the Calvinist view.
     
    #13 russell55, Jan 8, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2007
  14. russell55

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    Yes. The covenant is with true believers. That's why reformed Baptists baptize only those who believe. Baptism is the outward sign of the inward work of the Holy Spirit, the "circumcision of the heart" which produces people who remain faithful, who truly know the Lord.
     
  15. skypair

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    russell,

    Per Phil 1:6 and 3:21, right?

    My best evidence for a while (as a teen) was that I had received Christ into my heart. I knew I had done it -- I knew that I gave my testimony to my best friend. Sometimes all we have seems to be our profession because we haven't grown enough.

    I believe Baptists call it "PRESERVATION" of the saints because it is NOT dependent on us to persevere through works but on God who preserves by His Spirit in us.

    Yes, excellent! And I have found Geisler to be trying to "crossover" (like Rock to country only in theology). Read his book Chosen but Free. Hetries to be an apologist for both sides -- Calvinism and free will!

    Re: 2Pet 1:9-10, right? If you're not growing, God says you'll have no assurance.

    skypair
     
  16. drfuss

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    Form Dr. Horton's positions and what has been stated here on BB, it seems to me that Baptist Calvinists emphasize eternal security more than the Presbyterians, at least from a practical perspective. Is this generally a fair assessment?
     
  17. russell55

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    I don't think that's necessarily the case. Michael Horton is just saying that it's possible to be a church goer, which he would say makes you a member of the covenant community, and not be truly saved. But he would agree that God preserves all those who truly believe.

    I don't think Calvinistic Baptists believe much differently about the perseverance of the saint. They just don't believe that church goers who don't believe are members of the covenant community.
     
  18. swaimj

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    I have always disagreed with calvinists who say that regeneration preceeds faith. Horton seems to take this a step further by indicating that sanctification can preceed faith as well.

    I agree with Jim1999 in that baptists emphasize conversion and I believe that we are correct to do so. I don't think that the idea that soteriological operations of the Holy Spirit occur in an unregenerate person is scripturally justified. Faith is primary. A person must exercise faith to receive salvation.
     
  19. russell55

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    I don't think he's thinking of setting apart (or sanctification) in the salvific sense. It is not so much a spiritual setting apart, but a circumstancial one, that hopefully, as time goes on, leads to conversion.

    I don't think Horton thinks of these as soteriological operations, and I'm pretty sure he would agree that faith is necessary for salvation.
     
  20. Allan

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    I agree Swaimj:

    Look here (I just posted this on another thread) but it is relevent here and now since it was brought up just now.
    Notice God does state the cause or reason that He blinded them:
    They RECIEVED NOT the truth. It was something the could accept or reject (recieve or not) and in their rejection of truth revealed God has blinded them or sealed them in what they desired most - as says the scriptures - for THEY did not believe the truth and were damned because of that rejection.
    Then look at the next verse which is really illuminating:
    Here it states our salvation is a work of God, that from the beginning God has chosen you to salvation THROUGH (2 things) sanctification of the Spirit (seperating you from the world) AND belief of the Truth. Notice what condemned other to hell is their rejection of Gods revealed truth. However the converse shows those whom God saved was due to the Spirit AND belief in the truth.

    In order to BE saved one MUST believe FIRST in conjuection with the sactifying work of the Holy Spirit. - Which is conviction toward repentence
     
    #20 Allan, Jan 11, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2007

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