Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The dangers of being a credobaptist

It's no secret that I've not always been Reformed. I was actually raised in a Baptist church and slowly became reformed, but that is a whole story itself. Needless to say though the last major obstacle I had to joining the RCUS was infant baptism. I could readily see Calvinism in the scriptures, but for a long time I didn't understand why they insisted on baptizing their babies. It wasn't until I understood the covenant of grace that this made sense--had to get rid of that whole thinking that the Old Testament is totally irrelevant today.

Either way, I don't wish to make a full argument for paedobaptism right now--let's leave that to those more experienced. I want to suggest there are some dangers about being a credobaptist and not baptizing your children. My basis for this is found in Genesis when circumcision was instituted:
You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
(Gen 17:11-14 ESV)

Baptism and circumcision both point to the same reality--the washing away or the cutting away of sin (see Colossians 2:11-12). Both also signify the entrance into the visible church in their respective testaments. This being said, it is a very scary thought when you read this passage. God is saying that those who reject the sign of the covenant are rejecting what the sign points to. The true Jew knew that circumcision does not save a person; just as the true Christian today knows that baptism does not save a person. And yet, a rejection of the sign was a rejection of the covenant itself.

Now, as Peter said at Pentecost, the New Testament promise is to us, our children, and all who are afar off. Note that the change in the formula is not a removal of our children from the promise, but an addition of the Gentiles. This would indicate that the children of Christian parents are still heirs of the promise just as the Jewish children were in Israel's time. It would not make any sense for Peter to be saying that the promise (i.e. the covenant) was still unto the children of believers and yet not have the sign of the covenant applied to them.

Here's where the danger comes in; if it was considered a rejection of the covenant by those who refused circumcision to their children in the Old Testament, how much more dangerous is it for those who refuse to baptize their children in the New Testament when the revelation is so much clearer. After all, the author of Hebrews councils us to pay closer attention to the things of the New Covenant because if the things spoken by angels (the Old Covenant) proved steadfast, then how much more attention should we pay to the things spoken by the Son of God Himself? This would seem to make it an extremely foolish act to not baptize covenant children--if you are a believer. God does not take the rejection of his sign lightly.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

On How I Met Nancy

Searching for a truly reformed single lady has been quite a challenge. The reformed churches in the United States (the RCUS as well as fraternally related denominations) tend to be small and very spread out. I wrote a while ago about how there were relatively few truly conservative reformed women. Sure, there are some large PCA churches in the area--some of those are conservative, but a lot are quite modern too. Perhaps this is just generally true of large churches--there will be a mixture. As a side note, what always worried me about the large PCA churches is that the people in them really weren't Presbyterians. I had a friend who grew up in a large PCA church here in town and yet after 20 years or so I asked him what the five points of Calvinism were--the response I got was a blank stare. I suppose I desired a wife that would be more educated and truly Reformed or Presbyterian.

With this situation, my friends and I always joked that we'd either have to search somewhere else where there were more options (I'd even heard rumors of visiting California or Nebraska for this very purpose) or attempt to "convert" one of these more liberal women to a truly reformed faith. Now I suppose slowly teaching a young Christian the ways of the Reformed faith wouldn't be a bad thing, but I preferred trying to find a potential wife that was Reformed of her own before she met me. I guess I'd heard too many stories of people pretending to be interested in something just for the purpose of getting a person and then later on showing their more true colors.

This left the option of looking in other places for truly reformed women. I'd always been too prideful to try the online dating sites--even though I'm an avid Internet user. There was just something that seemed very desperate about doing this. After about a year or so of resisting this idea, my mom finally convinced me to try it out. The stipulation I put on this was that I wanted to try to meeting truly Reformed people and not just any old so called "Christian." In several Internet searches, I was amazed to actually find a site that claimed to be for only Reformed Singles. This was quite exciting; evidently other people had the same problem as I and they were using some new technology to help solve it. By the way, the site is Sovereign Grace Singles, and I would suggest it for anyone brave enough with technology and who sees the same problem.

After several months of being on that site, I was contacted by someone I now adore very much. I spoke with her on the phone and online for a couple of months before we met in person. Over New Years I journeyed to Canada (first time I'd been there in ages too) to visit Nancy. Things simply went really really well with her; honestly, I'd kind of feared that we wouldn't have gotten along in person as well as we did over the phone, but this was not true with her. She proved to be exactly the kind of conservative Reformed Christian I was looking for. Given that she was so conservative--she comes from a Dutch Reformed background--I thought it would probably be prudent to ask her parents' permission to date her. This was actually quite an interesting discussion as her sister ended up coming into the room while I was talking to her parents. Nothing quite like asking a rather nerve racking question with extra people listening; I'm not really sure her sister knew what to think of the whole thing and frankly neither did I.

Either way, they did give their consent, so I started a long distance relationship with Nancy that day (January 1st--don't you love easy dates to remember??? :-) ).

I'm really excited to see how things go; they have gone very well so far. One thing I've realized about long distance relationships is that in one way it's better: you get to know people by their words. On the other hand, some problems that would best be solved with a simple hug have to be talked about for much longer than normal. I'm glad there is an end in sight though; I hear rumors that we might be engaged soon, so that is something I, at least, will definitely look forward to. Perhaps later on I'll write on some suggestions and pitfalls I've seen with my own long distance relationships, but for now I'm just enjoying getting to talk to a woman I love. Oh how did people ever live without phones??? lol

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

God shall wipe away all tears

I've been pondering death lately. My grandfather recently died--the first of my grandparents to do so.

Nothing seems to quite sober a person up like the recognition that we all die. It leads me to consider the most important things in life. It also tends to remind me that my time on earth is limited. Being a young person, I'm sometimes liable to believe that there is unlimited time in life with which to do things, but this is not so. As Hebrews tells us, it is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment. This is one appointment I cannot escape, so instead I must be wise and prudent in my dealings here because they will one day be called into account by the Lord.

These times also call me to consider the words of God on the subject. I'm reminded of Andy McIntyre's comment about the song "It Is Well With My Soul": "But, even that, even the inevitable end of all men, even the grave whose gluttonous mouth is never full, never satisfied, caused him no fear or trepidation, for he had learned from His Lord that it is the welfare of the soul which holds the key to the meaning of life and its ultimate fulfillment." You can always tell those who are good with words because their phrases stick in your mind. That's how it is with that phrase "the grave whose gluttonous mouth is never full" is for me. What a great personification and yet so true at the same time. My mind immediately wanders to the consideration of what the serpent said to Eve: "Ye shall not surely die." and how wrong he was. What greater testimony that the words of God are true but thousands of years of people never escaping death? My grandfather died, my dad will die, and eventually I will die too. What a great backdrop of hopelessness this provides; there is no escaping death.

It is only against such a great blackness that the redemption of Christ can shine so brightly. The statement in Revelation now brings much joy to an otherwise dark situation: "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." That gluttonous mouth that was never satisfied will finally be closed! That final enemy will at last be crushed, and we will rein with Christ forevermore. This is the great hope of the Christian.

I will miss my grandpa. I thank God for the spiritual heritage he left me through my mom--that faith that God will eventually wipe away all tears from our eyes. That faith that allows me to loudly proclaim with Paul:

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"