Skip to main content

Reformed Baptism Critique #2

The next section of Pratt's article is headed Separation of Baptism and Divine Grace.  In the previous sections Pratt had outlined a theology of baptism that was based on scripture and seemed to indicate credo-baptism as the scripural norm.  In this section there is a departure from references to scripture and instead we start to hear from Calvin and the Belgic, Heidelberg and Westminster confessions.  While I find Calvin's definition of the church extremely problematic ("two marks of the true church: the preaching of the Word of God, and the proper administration of the sacraments") the essential conclusion of this section is one which I cannot argue with:
In the Reformed view, baptism does not normally convey spiritual benefits apart from the preaching and reception of the gospel. Rather, it increases our understanding of the preached Word; it nourishes and sustains us in our faith; and it confirms the benefits that come through saving faith in the preached Word. Reformed theology’s emphasis on God’s sovereignty and freedom leaves room for the sacraments to work in unexpected ways, but Scripture establishes the norm that the sacraments work in conjunction with the preaching of the Word. (p4)
If baptism works "in conjunction with the preaching of the Word" then it would seem clear that baptising those who have not yet heard, understood and received that word is a grave mistake.  In Pratt's presentation of baptism as a sacrament I find little to disagree with, it is not magic, it cannot truly operate apart from faith. 

However a definition of church such as Calvin's leaves us dangerously open to a church where the clergy are more essential than Christ.  Under this scheme without a heirachy approved minister to preach the word and properly administer the sacraments no true church is possible.  And so the church as purveyor of spiritual goods and services and the privileged spiritual position of the clergy is maintained, and the reformation remains only half baked.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

Thor Ragnarok and Parihaka: Postcolonial Apocalypse

Thor: Ragnarok is a riot of colour, sound, violence, humour, sci-fi and fantasy. As a piece of entertainment it is the best Marvel has produced so far. As in many of Taika Waititi's films the plot often seems secondary to the humour and a number of quirky moments seemed only to serve for a quick giggle. I left the theatre overwhelmed by the sensory experience, but ultimately unimpressed by any deeper meaning.

It wasn't until the second morning after my trip to the movies that I woke to the realisation that the movie could function as a profound postcolonial metaphor (I do some of my best thinking while alseep, also it can take me a while for the penny to drop). Unfortunately a quick google showed me that I was neither the first, nor the second to have this thought.

[Spoiler Alert!]

It's easy to miss with all the other stuff going on but Thor undergoes a postcolonial awakening during the film as he slowly realises that his beloved Asgard and its dominion of the nine realms …

Dale Martin does Mark

Dale Martin is an important and frequently controversial NT scholar. Those of us who can't make it to Yale to hear him teach can access some of his lectures, in fact his entire introduction to the NT course, through the magic of the internet.

Here he is holding forth on Mark . . .