Baptismal Regeneration, Two-Kingdom Theology, and all that jazz!

Some qualifications need to be made. Perhaps I have come across as someone who detests the entire project of the Westminster West gang. Most days that’s how I wanna come across; but then on those 65 degree-days in Florida when the sun is shining brighter than usual and the breeze is more gentle than usual–in those days– I feel rather loving. 2KT (Two-Kingdom-Theology) gets a lot of the spiritual stuff right. Unlike the Southern Presby’s, the Lutheranos actually do talk about bread and wine, and baptism is not as scary to them.

In fact, I heard a sermon by a 2KT pastor, who began by stating that Protestants have an “unduly negative view of baptism.” In other words, we are always trying to qualify what baptism is. Protestants spend most of their time debating the mode and who should be baptized, but they spend little time talking about what baptism accomplishes. Now that’s the way to begin a sermon on baptism! This pastor  said that most pastors are so afraid that our view on baptism will sound like Rome that they simply avoid passages like “baptism now saves you” or “be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.” Amen and Amen.

Now they are speaking my language! They are stressing what I think needs to be stressed more and more, world without end. But then…

they go right back to their formulations. “But of course,” they say, “baptism is not regeneration.” The sign and seal are so deeply connected that for Peter it appears to be one and the same, but it is not. Oh, logic, where art thou? We do not want to sound like Rome; check. We do not want to sound biblical; check. But why can’t we just use biblical language and let the nachos fall where they may? Let the Southern Presbys live in their inconsistency. They’re used to it! Why do you all have to be so careful in not affirming what should be affirmed? How about trying this sometime: Baptism regenerates, but not all those regenerated truly live the baptized life. Some fall away and apostatize. They abandon the faith. These are brought into the historical, visible covenant, but they are ultimately not part of the eternal, eschatological covenant. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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4 Responses to Baptismal Regeneration, Two-Kingdom Theology, and all that jazz!

  1. J.Kru says:

    Well, not quite. We have inherited our systematics from our fathers and ought to honor them. You still have to distinguish between persevering regenerate people and non-persevering regenerate people, and then answer why God didn’t preserve those he regenerated. As dear Dr. Pratt said, if we just use Biblical language for our theology, our theology will be as confusing as the Bible.

  2. Uri Brito says:

    You have just made that distinction for me…those who persevere are those branches part of the tree and those who do not are those branches that were part of the tree, but b/c of apostasy were cut off and burned. You see, just John 15.
    I am simply asking to affirm Biblical language first, before dis-affirming it.
    hermeneutics:
    a) Affirm Biblical language
    b) Explain Biblical language

    bad hermeneutics:
    a) Explain that the biblical language cannot mean what it says
    b) re-explain biblical language.

  3. J.Kru says:

    Hey brother – this is a great conversation to have. Good and thought provoking.

    Response: I think you need to go further and explain the source of apostasy: why did John Smith apostatize while I did not?

    I would agree with your “good” hermeneutics if everyone stopped interpreting what they hear and read, but that is naturally impossible.

    We’re never just talking about Biblical language, we’re talking about our understanding of Biblical language. As soon as you have read the Bible it has been interpreted in your ears and the ears of your hearers. So good hermeneutics, at least as far as teaching is concerned, is 1) explain what Biblical language means, and 2)affirm Biblical language.

    You’re surely not asking that anyone affirm Biblical language before dis-affirming it, because we don’t want anyone to dis-affirm Biblical language.

  4. Uri Brito says:

    Jarod, you are asking me why does God by grace bring some to everlasting life and why does God not persevere some into everlasting life…Ephesians 1 should answer that question (for the exaltation of his purposes). The source of apostasy is “neglecting so great a salvation”(Heb. 2:3) and “not holding our original confidence in Christ “(Heb. 3:14).
    If you are unconvinced that covenant members can fall away, then that’s another question, which I have answered elsewhere in writing and in sermon.

    “We’re never just talking about biblical language, we’re talking about our understanding of biblical language.”

    Yes, but you first affirm biblical language as is , then you seek to understand it. For instance,

    a) Baptism now saves you.
    b) Peter is using save in this sense and not in this sense.
    c) Therefore, this salvation is like unto Noah’s salvation.

    The Bad exegete:
    a) Baptism now saves you.
    b) Peter certainly did not say baptism now saves you.
    c) Therefore, baptism does not save you.

    Do you see the difference? I don’t know how to better explain this.

    I would simply turn your example around: first affirm and then explain. Seems reasonable.

    “You’re surely not asking that anyone affirm Biblical language before dis-affirming it, because we don’t want anyone to dis-affirm Biblical language.”

    No, I am affirming that this is what interpreters do…they should not do this! Do they do it intentionally? No. They are led by their traditions to approach their hermeneutical task in this manner. I am simply asking to affirm the text, and then allow our traditions and contexts to guide our interpretation. Calvin did this, and so did Luther.

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