No Baptism, No Justification -- Thoughts on article?

Discussion in 'Anglican and Christian News' started by Classical Anglican, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Here is a sermon from Abp. Foley Beach that explains the Anglican view of baptism.

    Judas certainly was baptized and yet was not saved. The crucified thief was not baptized and yet was saved. Baptism is not the mechanism of salvation. Baptism is a sign, a passport of sorts, for admission into the Church. When we affirm that we repent of our sin and reject Satan in the baptismal rite, it's simply a repetition of something that has already happened in our hearts. For an unrepentant heart, the baptismal rite is empty and devoid of power (though even then God may work on the elect through the Holy Spirit to soften their hard hearts, and thus give the baptism a retrospective power).

    Why was Jesus baptized? He certainly was righteous already; he had no need of justification. Yet he was baptized by John the Baptist just the same -- as a model and a guide for the rest of us. He was baptized as a sign, an example to be followed. Were it really the signal salvific act, Jesus' baptism would be meaningless because he had no need of saving. He came to earth to save others from their sins, by grace through faith.
     
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  2. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Oh, I disagree -- I can quote at length from John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, and others on this issue. But my ultimate authority is always the Bible, in particular the book of Romans, which I believe supports my position quite well.

    I can also quote from J. I. Packer's book The Heritage of Anglican Theology where he talks about Richard Hooker's views of the sacraments:
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2022
  3. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    More from Packer's Heritage of Anglican Theology (p. 68) as he discusses the meaning of Article XXV of the 39 Articles:

     
  4. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Notice that you’ve cited JI Packer a 20th century writer, Jonathan Edwards who literally created Revivalism, and John Owen a congregational heretic who supported hunting down Anglican clergy by armed soldiers.

    Can you see why all those would be invalid people to cite?

    I ask again: can you cite any valid theologian on this? I’d ask you to cite any classical Anglican Divine, or if that’s too much to ask, any reformer of any kind at all. Martin Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, Vermigli, Bucer. Even (God forbid) the Genevans, you won’t find any of them opposing baptism to justification; or listing “the five solas” as a sacred unit; or saying (as Packer did) that baptism is a symbolic gesture, which is almost blasphemous. You’re reading Revivalists and 20th century authors, and then serving it up as “the doctrine of the Reformation”.
     
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  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    "They that receive not Baptism with perfect
    faith, receive the water, but the Holy Ghost
    they receive not." --Jerome

    The idea that the parents' faith can suffice for the child is somewhat troubling. It reminds me of the LDS practice of 'baptism in absentia' on behalf of total strangers; does the dunked person's faith stand as substitute for the person on whose behalf they are dunked?
     
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  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    “By grace ye are saved, not of works,’ but by the will of God through Jesus Christ . . . If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live worthily of Him, ‘we shall also reign together with Him,’ provided only we believe. ” -- Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, Ch. 5

    Notice that he did not say, provided we believe and are baptized.
     
  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The source of the problem is that some of you are instinctively equating ‘faith’ with a psychological state instead of with an objective set of promises and actions. This is deep-rooted American generic revivalism at work. Anybody that came into Anglicanism (or any non-revivalist tradition) from an American evangelical or charismatic background needs to completely unlearn every aspect of what they think they ‘know’ about ‘the Bible’ or ‘Christianity’ or ‘faith’, and then relearn it from the ground up with no subjective presuppositions, or the adopted non-revivalist tradition simply will not make sense, and the temptation to then force it into a mold that is alien to it will always be there. There is abundant evidence on this Forum that this is exactly what is happening, at least in the US, and the root of it is probably inadequate catechesis over too short a period. Uniquely American religious and social assumptions are absolutely toxic to healthy religious practice, as is hyper-mobile American culture in general.
     
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  9. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Ad hominems are not an argument. You asked me to give you Puritan examples; I gave them. I have others if these do not suit you.

    But if good Purtans aren't your cup of tea, how about good Anglican evangelical John Stott? From his book The Cross of Christ, you can read his chapter on "The Salvation of Sinners" -- I think my notion of justification pretty closely aligns with his.

    Again, I am not denying the necessity of baptism. I am simply saying that justification necessarily precedes it -- baptism is simply the sign and seal upon a contract already agreed upon.
     
  10. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    He didn’t have to. It’s hard to baptize people when they’re being torn apart by lions in the Coliseum. Under other circumstances:

    “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16
    “Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” John 3:5
    “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them…” Acts 19:5-6

    Your move.
     
  11. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    How do you exegete this text in light of Luke 23:33–43? How about Peter's conversion of Cornelius and his family in Acts 10? Is Cornelius and his household -- none of whom were baptized, almost certainly -- saved or not? They were baptized later; but surely their salvation was procured before that. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit was on the household of Cornelius before they were baptized (Acts 10:44).

    It's also clear that sacramental baptism by itself cannot grant salvation without faith; for surely Judas Iscariot was baptised.

    In Mark 16:16, is Christ referring to ritual water baptism, or being "born of water and the Spirit" -- remembering that John 3:5 is probably not a reference to baptism as we're speaking of it, but to Ezekiel 36:25-27. I think the latter, and can provide good exegetical and text-critical reasons why I think so.

    Like I said: you need to grapple with the exceptions, and so far you haven't even attempted to do so.
     
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  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Justin Martyr gave the early church's understanding in about 155 A.D. when he wrote that infants are born "without knowledge or choice" and that later on (apparently after they have become old enough to commit willful sins) they are then baptized so their previous sins may be forgiven. Baptism was granted to those who "are persuaded and believe...and undertake to be able to live accordingly," but apparently not to infants.

    "I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, 'Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven'....And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the layer the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone."
    (Justin, First Apology 61)

    More importantly, the Bible gives not one definite example of infant baptism. We only have conjecture based on accounts of people who came to faith and were baptized "with their household"; we do not know whether the household included infants or toddlers, or whether any within the household did not believe before they were baptized, but that doesn't stop the infant-sprinkler advocates from making inordinate suppositions based upon these accounts.

    The Acts of the Apostles contains our best record of the early church's practices and teachings. What did the Apostles teach? Let's look:

    In Acts 2:38, we see Peter specify, "Repent and be baptized." "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized," v. 41.

    Act_8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

    Act_8:13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized...

    Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
    Act 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
    Act 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
     
  13. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    You keep trying to pigeonhole this stuff into a strict temporal sequence, hence the need to unlearn the revivalist assumptions. There is no one-size-fits-all sequence.

    There are also no exceptions to ‘justification by faith’, hence my lack of any perceived need to explain any.

    ‘The faith’ is the sum total of Jesus’ example and teachings: the Great Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Parables, the Sacraments, etc. It is Jesus’ teaching and actions that justify, and we receive them according to our limited capacities.
     
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  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    "But before the baptism, let the baptizer fast, and also the baptized, and what ever others can; but thou shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before." --the Didache

    "They who are about to enter baptism ought to pray with repeated prayer, fasts, and bendings of the knee, and vigils all the night through, and with the confession of all bygone sins, that they may express the meaning of the baptism of John...Unless a man be reborn of water and spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven" has tied to faith the necessity of baptism. Accordingly, all thereafter who became believers used to be baptized...and so according to the disposition, circumstances and even the age of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable, principally, in the case of little children....For the Lord does indeed say "Forbid them not to come to me". Let them come, then, while they are growing up. Let them come while they are learning; while they learn whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period in life hasten to the "remission of sins"? ..Let them know how to "ask" for salvation, that it may seem to have given "to him that asketh"... "
    --Tertullian
     
  15. Anglican Observer

    Anglican Observer Member

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    I like what you say. I sense that much of modern day evangelical talk about justification by faith is greatly impoverished from amnesia over the Reformation debates about merits and works, for example. Speaking for myself, years ago as an evangelical, I would have fixated on Article XI and extracted the phrases "justified by faith" and "not by our own works or deservings". I would have probably missed the one key nuance of being justified "only for the merit" (of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ). Taking Article XI in its fullness and reading it in tandem with Articles X and XII through XIV (and indeed the entirety of the Anglican formularies) along with the points being made about works before and after justification, merit of congruity and condign merit etc. really helps to show why being justified by faith is a "most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort" so much so it got a whole homily devoted to it and said homily got singular mention outside Article XXXV!
     
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  16. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The Didache quotation is irrelevant, and Tertullian was a Montanist heretic.
    Next…
     
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  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    "Far be it from us to suppose that God abhors in us that [intellect] by virtue of which He has made us superior to other animals. Far be it, I say, that we should believe in such a way as to exclude the necessity either of accepting or requiring reason; since we could not even believe unless we possessed rational souls." --Augustine
     
  18. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I knew you'd discount Tertullian. You're getting to be predictable! :laugh:
     
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  19. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    ‘Faith’ doesn’t mean a psychological state like conscious belief. It can include it, but it is not limited to that. This is one area where Reformation teaching was sharply discontinuous with medieval doctrine.
     
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  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    We are saved and justified by God's grace alone. God's saving, justifying grace is received only through faith, and explicitly not through any works; works include acts, deeds, ceremonies, and reception of sacraments.

    Yes, the very faith by which we receive His grace comes from Him.
    Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    Each man is given enough faith to make him able to believe in Christ and receive God's saving grace. Yet each man has the free will and choice to either cooperate with the gift of faith or to reject it. It is this rationality of man (also a gift from God) which he must utilize for good or for evil. To believe or not to believe: the choice may be conscious or unconscious, but it is still a choice arrived at through the pathway of the mind's reasoning faculty.

    As for the role of works in the life of a Christian....
    Psa 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

    Jer 17:5-8 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

    God likens a man blessed by Him to a tree planted very close to a flow of life-giving water. Such a tree continues to bear fruit. This man trusts in the Lord God. But a contrast is drawn against “the man who trusts in man,” whether that man is trusting in himself (his own ability to self-justify) or in superiors (prophets or priests) to provide justification; this man is said to be cursed.

    Good works are like fruit borne upon healthy branches; they are the result of being properly attached to God, the Source of all spiritual nourishment. Good works done for the purpose of self-justification, in an attempt to earn righteousness, would be like drawing nourishment from the fruit. We get nourished through the roots, and no good fruits are found in the roots.

    Notice in Psalm 1 that the more one meditates on God's principles (found in the Bible), the more rooted he becomes and the more fruit he bears.

    John 15:1-9 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

    Jesus likened us to branches which are attached to a rooted vine, and the vine is Christ. The way to bear fruit is to abide in Christ, and the living water (the Holy Spirit) will nourish us and enable us to bring forth good fruit. (The #1 ‘good fruit’ of faith in Jesus is love.) Being firmly attached to the life-giving vine is a prerequisite to producing good fruit. Bearing fruit cannot cause one to become grafted into the vine. Likewise, good works can neither justify us before God nor save us. Salvation cannot be rooted in a combination of faith plus works.

    If a branch bears no good fruit, spiritually speaking it is a sign that something is wrong with the tree. But never, ever can the fruit (works) make the branch healthy. Nor can external watering (baptism) make the branch healthy. Health only comes through attachment to the vine (faith in Jesus).