Late last year I stumbled across a Baptist Reformed blog discussion about a new book that was aimed at refuting infant baptism. With no malice towards those who practice infant baptism, the author of the book explained his aim as that of examining the presuppositions that led to this view with the objective being to convince Baptist to stay Baptist. This turned out to be a fairly comprehensive look at covenant theology, explaining clearly and biblically the differences in how Baptist and Presbyterians look at things.
I am most thankful for the blog, with comments from both sides – including the author of the book; and for the book – which is not high-minded nor overly intellectual. Not only is it a solid defense of credo-baptism, it is a wonderful walk through Covenantal Theology. What follows is a summary I’ve taken from Part 2 of the book, which takes some examples and explains the view of the author; which I am in agreement with.
Read the other blog here:
From Part 2 of The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism, by Jeffrey D. Johnson:
Without an accurate view of the Abrahamic Covenant, it is nearly impossible to understand the relationship between the various covenants of the Bible. The Abrahamic Covenant included at least four major promises:
- A seed
- A land of rest
- That Abraham would be the father of many nations
- And, ultimately, that Abraham’s children would be the “People of God”
The key to understanding these promises is distinguishing their two-prong fulfillment. That is, there is a dual nature to the Abrahamic Covenant. By studying the Old and New Testaments, we learn there is a physical and spiritual fulfillment to each of these promises.
Included in the physical fulfillments were:
- A natural seed (Gen 17:7 & 10)
- Types and shadows
- A condition
Included in the spiritual fulfillments were:
- A spiritual seed (Gal 3:16 & 29)
- Spiritual realities
- An unconditional guarantee
The nation of Israel was God’s outward people, analogous to the visible church – distinctly different from the “true Israel of God”, His inward people.
John Bunyan’s The Doctrine of Law and Grace Unfolded makes the case for one covenant with Abraham that has two parts; including law and grace. On the one hand, its condition was fulfilled by the work/righteousness of Christ. This made it a covenant of works. On the other hand, it provides grace without works to those who are in Christ by faith. In this sense, it is a covenant of grace. Like a coin, it is a singular covenant with two sides – including Gen 12 and Gen 17. For Abraham and his spiritual seed, it was an unconditional covenant of grace. For Abraham’s natural seed, including Christ Jesus, it was a covenant of works.
The Mosaic covenant, unlike the Abrahamic covenant, had no dual nature: it was strictly a covenant based upon works – Exodus 19:5 – 8. It contained 1.) an outward and visible seed, 2.) various types and shadows, and 3.) condition based on works. It promised blessings and curses; it was not established with the physical seed of Abraham to make them righteous, but to show them their sins and point them to Christ.
Not only did Christ fulfill the natural and conditional aspects of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants, He fulfilled the spiritual and unconditional aspects of Abrahamic Covenant.