Jeremy is Strangely Attracted to "Recovering" (Updated)

He finds the tone abrasive and high-handed at times, he accuses me of making arguments I don’t recall making (e.g., excluding congregationalists from the definition of Reformed. I’ve been accused of doing that but so far as I recall I didn’t discuss polity in RRC. Once more, there were representatives of three polities at the Westminster Assembly and at the Synod of Dort! I’ve never argued that polity is essential to being Reformed) and he doesn’t seem aware that I’ve not only edited an entire volume devoted to refuting the self-described Federal Vision movement but written thousands of words here, in a booklet, and elsewhere. Nevertheless, he finds RRC helpful, at least in some ways.

A couple of other responses and queries:

I’m very interested that he finds the volume abrasive. This is a topic of genuine interest (and research). It would be truly helpful to me if he could point out specific places where he finds the book abrasive or otherwise rhetorically offensive. I was pointed but I tried to be as charitable as possible. Is it just that I drew clear lines? Could that be why he dislikes the tone? What about the chapter on the joy of being Reformed?

On Clark sharing territory with the self-described FV movement. He’s partly right and partly wrong. I did write the book in part to demonstrate that it’s possible to have a high view of church and sacraments (a confessional view) without succumbing to the sacerdotalism of the self-described FV movement. We can have means of grace without magic. Shared territory? Well, only if the German invasion of France meant that they shared territory!  The Reformed churches have categorically rejected the self-described FV movement and rightly so. The FV movement uses our vocabulary but they corrupt our doctrine of justification, our doctrine of salvation, our doctrine of perseverance, and our doctrines of church and sacraments. I can’t see exactly where the shared territory is.


Judging from comments after his post it appears that the ground of his perception that the book is “abrasive” is that I have argued that Baptists, by definition, aren’t Reformed.  Once more, I’m sorry if my Baptist friends are offended by this argument but the it is driven by overwhelming evidence. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly every single major and (so far as I know) minor Reformed confession of the 16th and 17th century prior to and contemporaneous to the rise of the modern Baptist movement affirms infant baptism and many of them (e.g., the Belgic Confession, ) speak  specifically to the rejection of infant baptism. If the Reformed confessions define what it is to be Reformed and if the Reformed confessions affirm infant baptism and deny the rejection of the same then it would seem to be hard to avoid the conclusion that to deny infant baptism is to remove oneself from the Reformed faith. The only avenue left would be to deny that the sacrament of baptism (which we understand to include infant baptism) is essential to the Reformed faith. This would be a hard argument to maintain. First, our Lord himself commanded baptism. So it has dominical authority. Second, the catholic faith teaches baptism (e.g., explicitly in the Nicene Creed and arguably implicitly in the Apostles’ Creed). Third, the Reformed confessions all confess baptism (including infant baptism). One is hard pressed to imagine how the sacrament of baptism (including infant baptism) is not essential to the Reformed faith? Isn’t the believer’s baptism essential to being Baptist?

A while back I reviewed, in Modern Reformation, volume 1 of the new, three-volume series of English translations of the Reformed confessions. Someone wrote in to complain that I want to exclude Baptists. Here’s my response:

I am grateful to Mr Balson for raising this important question. I wrote book to address it, Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice (2008). Evidently the earliest Baptists did not think it necessary to call themselves “Reformed.” They called themselves “General” or “Particular” Baptists. In the Reformation, the Reformed Churches confessed infant baptism as essential to the Reformed faith. In 1530 Huldrych Zwingli did so to the Diet of Augsburg as did the Tetrapolitan Confession (ch. 18; 1530). The First Confession of Basel (Art. 12; 91534), First Helvetic Confession (Art. 22; 1536), Calvin’s catechisms (1537, 1538, 1545), The Geneva Confession (Art. 15; 1536/1537), and the French Confession (Art. 35; 1559), all confessed the moral necessity of infant baptism. In the Belgic Confession (Art. 34; 1561) the Dutch Reformed Churches confess, “We detest the error of the Anabaptists” specifically the practice of re-baptizing believers and denying infant baptism. The Second Helvetic Confession (1561/1566; ch. 20) specifically condemned the denial of paedobaptism. The Heidelberg Catechism (Q. 74; 1563) insisted on infant baptism. The Westminster Confession 28.5 (1647) arguably calls the “neglect” or condemnation of infant baptism “a great sin.” In the light of this evidence it is hard to see how insisting on it is anything but consistent with confession of the Reformed Churches in which one finds not only a soteriology but also an ecclesiology and doctrine of the sacraments.

Further, this was a topic of discussion with my good friend Mark Dever (I get along well with confessional Baptists!) a while back. Here’s the original response to Mark and the version published at 9 Marks.

The topic of defining “Reformed” has been discussed many times on the HB. Here’s the category.

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  1. I know abrasive and RRC ain’t it. I’ve read it and reviewed it thoroughly, so I know what I’m talking about.

  2. “The FV movement uses our vocabulary but they corrupt our doctrine of justification, our doctrine of salvation, our doctrine of perseverance, and our doctrines of church and sacraments. I can’t see exactly where the shared territory is.”
    Right – shared terminology, different definitions or different substance.

    As for territory: the FV wants the confessional orthodox to share territory only until they can take it from us. Shepherds watch over your flocks!

  3. I have a friend that has started calling himself “historic Baptist” meaning “Calvinistic like the Philadelphia and London Confession” Baptist. This is because he thinks “Reformed Baptist” is a misnomer for the reason you stated above. I think the point is just factual that “Calvinistic” or “Reformed” usually only refers to soteriology for the “reformed” part of Baptist.

    But that makes me wonder, Dr. Clark. What do you think of those who refer to themselves as “Reformed Anglican”? With the roots that the Church of England has in the Reformed tradition, is this more appropriate than “Reformed Baptist”? If one is a confessional Anglican (39 Articles), is one Reformed?

  4. So far, I don’t find RRC ‘abrasive’. The Reformed/Baptist discussion has been occurring almost exclusively in blogdom. My only thought is that Dr. Clark seems to arbitrarily decide what is and what is not essential to the Reformed faith, ie Paedobaptism but not 6-(24 hr)-day creation, even though an argument could be made that is what the confession intended. Anyway, minor point, haven’t finished yet. Got sidetracked by the book we’re reading for mid-week bible studies.

    • I’m glad you’re reading the book.

      Where do the confessions stipulate 6/24 creation? The WCF says ‘in the space of 6 days.’ I believe that. What’s arbitrary about that? The point is that it’s a poor boundary market for Reformed orthodoxy. Why is that so difficult?

      • Simple enough really Exodus 20:11. If day means millions of years than the reason annexed to the 4th commandment is nonsense. Sanctify & rest on day 7 because God rested on some day that has nothing to do with the act of creation.

        Was day 7 a 24 hr day? If so why can’t the others be 24 hours? Did God really NEED the extra time?

        • But, as I understand Dr. Clark’s point–the days MAY have been be 24 hours, or they may NOT have been; Scripture is not clear on this. And the Westminster Confession does not make 6/24 hour creation a boundary marker for Reformed orthodoxy. Why is this so upsetting?

        • Andrew,

          Does God have eyes, ears etc (considered apart from the incarnation)? Of course, the answer is no. Are there still analogies between God & creatures? Yes. Ergo, on analogy the creation days need not be 24 hours for the sabbath command to have force.

  5. Not sure of the “Reformed” position, but the position of the original Westminster Standards is actually literal days. I have dabbled in research on authorial intent on several matters as far as the WS are concerned and I find the data for that conclusion far more persuasive than that to the contrary. There have been several and some quite lengthy discussions of this on the Puritan Board; one of the longer is at:

    • Chris,

      Most of the divines held 6/24 creation but the question is whether they intended to impose that on the churches and whether the confession is received as requiring that. As you know there is ambiguity on the first but not on the 2nd. The divines knew that there was mo sun til day 4 and thus hard to be dogmatic about the length of days 1-3.

    • Chris,

      I think when we look at “the intent” of the authors instead of the plain statement of the text of the WCF, we end up on pretty shaky ground when we start making the “intent” a matter of Reformed orthodoxy. “In the space of six days” is the text.

  6. Richard,
    We only look beyond the words when controversy is raised about the meaning of them. I’ve said nothing about a test of orthodoxy; I have asserted what I think the intended meaning of the divines was.
    Whatever the words mean of course is what they intended to hold forth as a standard for the three kingdoms at that time. It is only ambiguous “now” because many reject the view they held and it is not controversial.

    I’ve said my piece. I have no interest in going over this yet another time but simply wanted to counter the implication that the case had been determined against the meaning of literal day.

    • OK, understood. And thank you for your work on “The Confessional Presbyterian.” It’s a great journal!

    • Chris,

      What do you make of William S. Barker, “The Westminster Assembly on the Days of Creation: A Reply to David W. Hall,” WTJ 62 (2000): (don’t have the page numbers to hand)? I thought he made a reasonable case that there is more ambiguity about the views held by the divines and about their intent than is often asserted.

      The intent of the divines, as I understand it, was to reject what they understood to be Augustine’s view of instantaneous creation (thus making Gen 1-2 largely a literary artifice).

  7. Dr. Clark,

    Related to the comments above about the creation days of Genesis, do you know if there are any conservative reformed denominations in the United States that would allow someone who held to theistic evolution to be ordained?
    This is assuming that the person, while believing the inerrancy of the bible and having an overall literal interpretation of Genesis 2-3 and the rest of the bible, held to a day-age / framework view of Genesis 1 and also believed the section of Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God made man from the dust of the ground” is a metaphor saying that God made man physically.
    I’m just asking because I heard of Bruce K. Waltke’s resignation of his position at Reformed Theological Seminary after making a statement in support of the theory.

    • Scott,

      I don’t know with certainty. It might be possible in some presbyteries in the PCA but this is only because of the way the PCA has chosen to relate to the standards (“good faith” subscription which may vary from presbytery to presbytery). There was trial in the OPC over this with good men on both sides. It is often claimed that Warfield held TE but Gary Johnson disputes this and says that the evidence leads in a different direction. My perception (based mainly on anecdotal evidence so it’s not a firmly held view) is that there was probably more latitude on this question in the first half of the 20th century than there has been since middle of the 20th century. The creationism movement, galvanized by the book by Whitcomb and Morris has re-trenched and re-drawn the lines of battle.

      • Thank you, that was very informative. Sorry if it took me a while to respond. I didn’t know that creationism has been enjoying more popularity.

        • See RRC where I discuss this at some length.

          Since the early 60s there’s been a strong move, which has occurred in roughly the same time as rise of theonomy and arguably the rise of neo-moralism (the Shepherd case began in ’74 but it didn’t drop out of the sky). I think these movements are internally related. They are all examples of the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty. Some have criticized my appeal to these as examples but the critics ignore (and perhaps I didn’t explain at sufficient length) the nature of these, e.g., moralism, as examples rationalism. Why are people attracted to moralism? Because they think it’s going to produce the desired sanctity. Rather than preaching the gospel and trusting the Spirit to do his work they turn to an essentially rationalistic system to produce sanctity: “let’s make justification contingent upon intrinsic sanctity.” This was, of course, the Romanist scheme and it was its inherent rationalism that caused Luther to call it a theology of glory. Theonomy is, likewise, a quest for moral certainty in a fluid age. It’s no accident that just as the old moral order was collapsing Rushdoony turned to the Mosaic civil code as a pattern for civil life. It’s not merely an exegetical question (as some have suggested) but a turn to essentially a fundamentalist (and Anabaptist!) way of addressing the collapsing social order. Young-earth creationism and especially the use of it as a boundary marker in Reformed churches breathes the same spirit. The reality is that no one really knows, certainly not from Scripture, the age of the earth or the length of the sunless creation days but denominations have, nevertheless, made “six normal days” a mark of orthodoxy. That’s bizarre. What’s “normal” about a sunless 24-hour day? That’s abnormal I think. They might be right but no one (as E J Young recognized in the early 60s) can know what really happened and certainly not in scientific terms. Ignoring the inherent uncertainty and plowing ahead to make a certain view of creation a boundary marker of orthodoxy, despite the relatively modest confessional language, is nothing if not a symptom of QIRC.

          • I agree, but some people are almost cultic about minor things like that. One or two people have gone so far as to tell me that unless I believe in YEC I cannot legitamitely believe in a fall of man or feel I have a need for salvation. I thought it was strikingly similar to how KJVOs will say that others are liberals and don’t believe in the bible if they use other translations or a different greek text.

  8. Interesting though not conclusive. Jesus said there are 12 hours in a day (& thus, 12 hours in a night). And the evening and the morning…24 hours.

    • “δώδεκα ὧραί εἰσιν τῆς ἡμέρας”

      = 12 hours of daylight? If so, depending on the season, that wouldn’t be consistently true would it?

      Isn’t the point to appeal to common (universal) sense experience in broad, colloquial terms to make a point. Do we really want to make literal astronomical points from such language? Isn’t that how the medieval church got into trouble by reasoning that the bible says “the sun rises” and concluding geocentrism?

      Part of the problem, from my pov, is that we keep asking questions of Scripture that it doesn’t seem terribly interested in the questions we’ve been asking since the mid-19th century.

  9. Dr. C:
    1. You shouldn’t criticize people’s views by attacking their motive (quest for certainty). Or people like Frame will (do) talk of your confessionalism as the quest for stability.
    2.Would you have answered Jesus as you answered me: “well, depending on the season that wouldn’t be true, would it?” Of course he was making a point, wasn’t he?
    3. I didn’t see that any posters here said it should be a test of orthodoxy.
    4. Why does this topic (creation days) cause you to decry what you call moralistic preaching and theonomy? It’s as if you have found a convenient way to categorize those things you don’t agree with and once they are called QIRE or QIRC–they’re toast.

    • Lacie,

      1. You criticize my theory by attacking my motives! Isn’t that ironic?

      2. Yes, I dislike moralism very much. I don’t apologize for attacking moralism. See Gal 2. I don’t apologize for attack rationalism. See the whole Bible.

      3. I don’t dislike the 6/24 view. I have held it before and may well hold it again some day if it’s proponents can make better arguments. Right now I find it unsatisfactory theologically and exegetically.

      4. Motives. Well, this is difficult. There are different kinds of motives. You question my personal motives without really knowing the facts, it seems to me. I’m not questioning people’s personal motives. I’m not God. I don’t know what their personal motives are. I am, however, questioning theological and psychological motives. If I didn’t have evidence and if I didn’t document it then you might have a case but I do have evidence and I have reasoned arguments.

      5. My job as a scholar and historian and pastor is to explain not only what people say but why. When i write about dead people I have to try to imagine why they said what they did and what about their circumstances pushed them to it, what about their theology pushed them to it and even what about their personal makeup pushed them to it. I tried to do the same in these cases.

      6. On the question of creation. I’ve spent a LOT of time over the last 30 years talking to people, reading papers, books, articles, websites etc on this question. After all that i decided that one of the reasons people use 6/24 creation as a boundary marker is that they need the sort of certainty that it provides. Why do I come to that conclusion? Well, consider, as I already mentioned, the fact that there is simply no way to know how long the “morning” and “evening” was prior to the existence of the sun. 24 hours is a way of describing revolutions around the sun. There was no no sun. The earth wasn’t revolving around anything, so far as we know. Yet one of our NAPARC denominations (and others hold this view) that the first three days were “normal” (?) and 24 hours. Well, that might have been but it’s entirely speculative. To insist on an entirely speculative view as a measure of orthodoxy (and this denom does and more than a few in my own federation would like to do; there have been several overtures to synod to that effect) needs explanation. Why would people insist what is manifestly a speculative view as a measure of orthodoxy? Because their faith depends, to some degree, on being right on this issue. Why is it necessary for them to be “right” on this issue? Because they’re scared of the collapse of the culture and they trace that collapse to the rise of modern, old-earth geology, evolution etc. The answer, it seems to them, is to plug the dam. What’s the dam? It’s the loss of 6-24 creation.

      If you’ll read the book you’ll see the evidence for these claims. To try to put this problem into perspective I compared the current creation controversy to the problem in the 16th and 17th centuries over astronomy. For about a century many orthodox Reformed folk reacted to the collapse of geocentrism in exactly the same way. Some of our better writers (e.g., one of my favorites, Witsius) mocked the new astronomy in print. Witsius actually had a point. Some of the new astronomers did make silly claims (just as some contemporary “scientists” make silly claims and should be mocked). Nevertheless, by the mid to late 18th century the evidence was overwhelming and by mid 19th century just about everyone abandoned geocentrism. We’re going through a similar struggle now.

      I’m not accusing anyone in this particular discussion on the HB of making 6/24 creation a measure of orthodoxy but it came up in response to Jeremy’s criticisms. I was trying to explain why I wrote what I did in the book. It absolutely is a measure of orthodoxy in at least two NAPARC denominations. It is not possible to enter their ministry without affirming it. There are presbyteries in the OPC where good, thoughtful, orthodox candidates for ministry have been rejected solely on the grounds that they did not hold 6/24 creation. There are advocates of 6/24 creation in the PCA who have argued, in print, that it must be a measure of orthodoxy. So there is plenty of reason for me to think that people are using it as such.

      So, my arguments about this are not some vendetta but an attempt to explain to reasonable people, in reasonable ways, the reasons why people are using their interpretation of Gen 1-2 as a lever by which to find certainty.

      I use the language QIRC in order to gather together under one heading things that have substantially identity and to explain them. Historically, as I explained above, in the NAPARC world, these phenomena all arose about the same time, in the same circles for similar reasons. If one looks at the whose who in the theonomic-reconstructionist movement, they are the whose who in the push to make 6/24 creation a boundary marker for orthodoxy and there is a good deal of overlap between those groups and the FV movement. They are like overlapping circles (or a Venn Diagram). Not every member of each of these three groups is in all three but enough are to make QIRC a good explanatory theory.

      Take a look at the book and the footnotes and see if it doesn’t work better than you might think.

      • One more thing as to why one would try to explain why people are attracted to certain views. So far as I know there is no history of theonomy in Reformed theology prior to the late 1950s and RJR. The fact that the view developed, by a conservative in the mainline (he was in the PCUSA at the time) in reaction to social and theological liberalism raises the question, doesn’t it? Why did he begin to develop this view? Why are it’s adherents so intractable? My own interaction with theonomists, which began virtually the moment I entered a Reformed church, has made me question the wisdom of swapping bible texts with them. I started thinking about this when I was working on the problem of the free offer. The evidence in the Reformed tradition for the free offer of the gospel is very strong and the exegetical arguments are extensive. If so, I asked myself, why haven’t the pro-free offer people made much progress (or none at all) with the critics? The answer is that the critics of the free offer have a prior philosophical commitment that makes them more or less impervious to theological and exegetical arguments. I tried to explain this is the essay on the free offer in the volume honoring Bob Strimple:

  10. The divines wrote “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good. (WCF)

    Note the phrase “visible and invisible.” Do Reformed YEC proponents suggest the divines believed heaven and the angels were created on the first 24 hour day of creation? Doesn’t the phrase “visibile and invisible” suggest otherwise; that “six days” was simply echoing Scripture without limiting the days into our time frame?

  11. The creation days discussion as an aspect of QIRC in RRC is helpful and adds greatly to the general discussion. However, the critique of Edwards and the roots of revivalism is crucial and deserves far more attention, especially in terms of the massive impact Edwards’ approach had on the Reformed churches in the US, not to mention Protestant Christianity here in general. DG Harts ‘Old Religion in the New World’ is also helpful here. QIRE is the dominant paradigm of Protestant and sub-reformed Christianity in the US and demands substantial critique coupled with sound instruction in the churches in the authorized means of grace.

    Perhaps the most valuable offering the book contributes is its potential service as a substantial summary of where things are vs where things ought to be when viewed from a strictly confessional standpoint. This is not to say that the Confession(s) must hold the place in churches for which RSC argues, but it does mean that people who wish to maintain the place in churches for confessional standards for which RSC argues must also wrestle with what he argues the confessions do indeed teach. Its no use saying one is reformed and confessional when one guts the confession(s) of their actual meaning. Growing up in the LCA (so many years ago!), I saw this happen with the Apostles Creed. We said it, but the leaders had stopped believing it long ago – and we see where that leads. In my opinion, being authentically confessional as RSC describes it may come into sharpest (and most controversial) focus in the discussion on worship.

    I find myself disagreeing with RSC on the way he presents certain aspects of Law-Gospel (I wouldn’t qualify a Jesus’ command to ‘repent and believe’ as ‘Law’ when the text says he is preaching the Gospel, but this is well worn territory) and I think he dismisses too quickly as ‘metaphorical’ New Testament Temple language as irrelevant to worship, opting for a kind of Exclusive Synagogue model.

    RSC, can I make a humble suggestion if a re-publication comes along? I appreciated your insistence in Psalms very much and wonder if you might consider mentioning (positively!) chanted/antiphonal versions of the Psalter for congregational worship. The advantage is singing the text directly as opposed to paraphrased metrical versions. We use both and – while chant for many people takes some getting used to, given the dominance of QIRE and a certain illegitimate antipathy to *anything* that even looks like Rome or other destinations – this approach has proven to embody ‘reverence and awe’ together with simplicity. As I mentioned, the metrical versions are certainly beneficial and we would never be without them – congregational chant would not replace this, but it can augment it in ways that we find edifying.

    There are a couple of places in the book in which I think RSC has made too much of the reformation ‘divide’ between the historic catholic Church and the post-reformation church – this warrants a lot more discussion.

    Dr Clark, have you considered writing a ‘Protestant Version’ of what Newman called ‘Development’?

    The book is passionate while thoughtful, clear without being strident; it is eminently readable – and should be a book Reformed officers and members deal with carefully. Tolle Lege.

    Finally, thank you RSC for your balanced call for a new confession. Needed!

  12. I really appreciate your perspective of why Baptists are not reformed. A couple of men that I respect very much had been telling me as much but I was having trouble with the why. Understanding the doctrinal difference in Baptism, which I adamently disagree with, I wondered if it was essential to being called Reformed, or merely to be condemned by Presbyterians as a faulty view preached and practiced to the detriment of their congregants. After reading this my mind more fully comprehends, and agrees, with your assessment… it helped the light to click as to the why. Thank you.

  13. The most succinct statement I’ve found about the importance of holding to literal, 24-hour days of creation is at the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary website:

    By the way, someone has said (can’t remember who, sorry) that a 24-hour day requires only the rotation of the earth and an external light source. This is present in Genesis 1:3. Note also that Genesis 1:4 states that God “separated the light from the darkness,” which seems to indicate the regularity of the pattern of light and dark on the first day of creation. Since the light is called Day and the dark Night, and there was evening and morning (1:5), I can’t see any objection to a regular 24-hour day before the creation of the sun.

    • Frank,

      None of us has ever seen “eternal light.” Yes, there was, apparently, a supernatural light source before the creation of the sun, but as E J Young reminded us in the early 60s, those first three days are not like our days. By definition we can’t measure “eternal light” and 24 hours is, by definition, a measurement.

      Don’t you see that by defining a day as “rotation of the earth” we’re back to geo-centrism?

      Don’t you see how desperate this approach appears? It appears as if 24 hours is being made to be true at all costs, even if the text has to be distorted rather considerably to get it and 24 hours has to be re-defined to get the desired outcome. This is just what the medieval church did and what the Romanist authorities did after Copernicus and Galileo. We know the answer we just have to set up the problem so the answer comes out correctly.

      On this approach we have to reject E J Young (who became a strong critic of the Framework, BTW) who recognized that we have to be agnostic about the nature of the first three days. So now, Warfield is out, Machen is out, and E J Young is out. Really?

      Yes, there was a pattern of light and day but was that pattern revealed to us in order to calculate the length of the days? In RRC I argue that this very discussion is prima facie evidence that we’re asking the wrong question.

      The reason God revealed the morning/evening and day/night pattern is explicitly revealed in Gen 1-2 itself: the Sabbath! We’ve missed the Sabbath forrest for the creation day trees. Again, I wrote that part of RRC hoping to stimulate my 6/24 friends to think beyond the question of the length of the creation days and to recover the intended purpose of the creation narrative: the sovereignty of God, the power of the Word, the presence of the Spirit, the ordination of the sabbath principle.

  14. Well, Scott, it seems that I and others are pretty good at pushing your buttons! I was not aware that the overwhelming consensus of Christian thought through the centuries is now viewed as “desperate.” I’m astounded that the mere assertion of the “traditional” view (for want of a better term) can produce such a vehement reaction.

    (By the way, I will not vote against a day/age or framework candidate coming into my PCA Presbytery in south Mississippi, even though I’m convinced he’s wrong at that point. So, maybe I’m not totally QIRC-y after all.)

    To suggest that your “6/24 friends” have to think “beyond the question of the length of the creation days” to recover “the intended purpose of the creation narrative” is astonishing to me. Surely you’re not implying that we don’t grasp the creation narrative’s teaching on “the sovereignty of God, the power of the Word, the presence of the Spirit, the ordination of the sabbath principle.”

    I believe, but cannot prove, that the rejection of 24-hour creation days involves more than exegesis. There may be be something else going on here–social pressures, peer pressure, group think. I just don’t know. But, then again, I’m sort of a contrarian by nature. The oh-so-trendy Reformed crowd is running away from 6/24 at breakneck speed, red in the face and gasping for breath, which makes me a little suspicious. Or, to change the metaphor, I’m not so eager to jump on this bandwagon, preferring to think that (most of) our forefathers weren’t so naive after all.

    • Frank,

      It’s not a vehement reaction but I am a little exasperated when people insist on SIX-24 hour days without a sun on days 1-3.

      What do you make of E J Young? Have you read his work on creation? I’m defending him here and he’s regarded as a very, very conservative interpreter.

      Geocentrism was also a consensus view held for centuries. Are you a geocentrist too? After all the Bible says that the sun rises.

      Frank, what pushed away from 6/.24 creation was the way it was argued. The word “day” is used in two quite distinct senses within the very narrative itself (i.e., Gen 2:4 where it means, apparently, something other than 24-hour day). A good exegesis has to explain that and it has to account for the rather distinct nature of the days before the sun and after.

      It was those sorts of things, internal questions (not external, “scientific” questions) that pushed me toward some sort of analogical view rather than a 6/24 view. I affirm, as a member of the URCs, s 6 mornings and evenings. We don’t have stipulate the exact lengths of those mornings and evenings.

      Have you read Bob Godfrey’s book?

      Frank, if I wanted to be “oh-so trendy” I wouldn’t be teaching a smallish Reformed seminary, attending small, marginalized congregations. I would be teaching a state-funded schools and attending a large, fashionable mainline congregation. I’m not. I accepted my minority status a long time ago. I’ve had to stand in front hostile academic crowds and defend unpopular views. I could have chucked it all and gotten much easier. I chose a more difficult route because it’s right, not because it’s popular. Holding to a historical literal Adam and Even (not to mention FEDERAL theology) and to an analogical view would still, in “oh so trendy” circles still makes me a retrograde fundamentalist.

      Frank, I don’t care what the trendy folks say. i care what the Word of God says. That’s my concern and it’s been my concern for 30 years. That’s why I’m sitting here on a Saturday afternoon typing responses this question. If you could only see the files of correspondence I have on this issue you would understand how often I’ve done this. There aren’t any “trendy” people even discussing the length of the creation days.

      I’m passionate about this because we’ve been chasing this thing for the last 60 years or so to virtually no benefit to the churches. Some of (not all of) my better friends who hold the 6.24 view do so while denying the sabbath! I realize that’s not the majority view but it is symbolic of the “trees and forest”problem I mentioned before.

      What if the text, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, as given in its original context, doesn’t care about the length of the creation days? Before you scoff, when Galileo and others suggested the the bible isn’t concerned about the scientific relations of the sun to the earth, people scoffed. Today how many non-“oh so trendy” people hold heliocentrism for PURELY scientific reasons? ALL of them. Why aren’t they all liberal, “oh so trendy” sell outs?

      As I keep trying to say, the Lord may have created the world in 6-24 periods but the text does not say that unequivocally (as, e.g., it does re the resurrection), certainly not with the clarity needed to make it an article of orthodoxy.

  15. Making the distinction between geocentrism and heliocentrism as scientists understand it a Biblical matter is a canard. Motion is relative in space (full stop). NASA uses both Geo and Helio based calculations. The Bible tells us the sun and stars were created *for* the earth. In that Biblical sense the earth is the center of the universe.

    The reality that numerous galaxies exist to create the theatre for one living planet to exist in does
    not trouble or confound me any more than the the fact that predatory animals need surprisingly large tracts of land to survive.

  16. Scott,

    Your actual arguments concerning this issue, if not some of your other comments, are on point. I can handle a dish of red-hot polemics, although I try not to serve it myself. I acknowledge that this issue is populated with lots of “good men on both sides,” and that we should read them and take them seriously.

    My concern is that the young earth, 24/6 adherents are now the ones being marginalized, even treated as second-class confessional citizens. It seems that all sorts of crazy motives and various degrees of mental imbalance are being attributed to them. Granted, in certain quarters we hear incendiary language against the day-age/analogical/framework views. I’ve used some of it myself. I’ve heard every variant of slippery-slope reasoning. But turnabout is not fair play in this matter. No one should prejudge a brother who is thoroughly convinced that 24/6 creation is not only the “catholic” and confessional view, but also the most natural, unforced exegesis that is consistent with the analogy of faith.

    To defend the 24/6 view of creation is not necessarily a Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty. It may be, and it’s good to warn against it. But it also may be a sober, settled conviction that this is what the Bible teaches and, as such, it’s pretty important.

    I need to check what Jonathan Edwards believed about the days of creation. That would settle the matter [Insert Smiley Face here!].

  17. I’m not sure whether anyone has noticed this yet on the thread, but the Apostles’ Creed does not in fact refer to baptism, as Dr Clark claims above.

    More constructively, I am familiar with some of the historically grounded attempts to deny that Baptists can be “Reformed,” despite their (that is, our!) sometimes claiming the name. Some of the best historical scholarship does let Baptists join the club: it is interesting to note that Richard Muller includes John Gill among the post-reformation Reformed dogmatists (eg PRRD i. 32, second ed).

    More generally, I wonder why those defending infant baptism don’t often want to deny the tag “Baptist” to “Baptists.” Doesn’t the logic of Dr Clark’s comments require Reformed infant baptist believers to recover (and thereby deny to the “opposition”) the term “Baptist” as much as the term “Reformed”?

    (I write as a rather strict 1689 type.)

    • Thanks Crawford,

      I should have been more precise and I’ve revised the text above. Baptism is often taken to be implicitly present in the phrase “forgiveness of sins” and has been discussed under it. It is, of course, explicitly present in the Nicene Creed.

      If “Reformed” means “what the Reformed churches confess in the Three Forms of Unity and the Belgic Confession and consonant documents (e.g., the other confessions and catechisms produced by the Reformed churches in the 16th and 17th centuries)” then there can be little question, can there, that denying an essential article of the Reformed faith disqualifies one from being “Reformed.”

      Denying infant baptism is no mere technicality. Baptists arrive at their denial of infant baptism via a hermeneutic. That hermeneutic differs from the Reformed understanding of redemptive history in significant ways. Baptists arrive at their denial of infant baptism via a rather different (more highly realized) eschatology than that confessed by the Reformed churches. Baptists have a different view of the church (not necessarily in re polity but as to the nature of the church in the inter-adventual age). Yes, predestinarian Baptists share some important doctrines, but that would be true of other groups as well and we don’t call them “Reformed” and Baptists, as I’ve argued in this space before, seem quite reluctant to recognize us Reformed folk, who all do baptize hitherto unbaptized adult converts(!), as “Baptists.” Why not? Because, at that point even predestinarian, particular Baptists recognize that there is a significant difference between their theology, piety, and practice and ours and that it would be confusing to call us “Baptists.” Why then isn’t it confusing to call “Baptists” Reformed?

      I don’t see why Particular Baptists return to their original nomenclature? It worked in the 17th century and after. Crawford is welcome to correct me but isn’t the name “Reformed Baptist” quite recent (c. mid-20th century?). My perception is that it developed out of cooperation between Reformed and Baptist folk during a time, as I wrote above, when it was advantageous to downplay differences. In that same period we also downplayed our covenant theology (e.g., the doctrines of the covenant of works and covenant of redemption virtually disappeared in orthodox Reformed circles) so the recovery of the distinction between Reformed and Baptist would be a corollary to the rediscovery of the more full-blooded covenant theology, piety, and practice.

      I have no interest, polemical or logical, in denying the nomenclature “Baptist” to Baptist because I don’t accept the premise that “Baptist” and “Reformed” are equivalent terms. We have to call them something and it might as well be Baptist. We should recognize that, in important respects, they aren’t Anabaptist but that in some respects, they retain continuity with some Anabaptist views and practices.

      I do look forward to the day, however, when my Baptist friends are able to regard me and my children as baptized, of course that would require them virtually to deny their position. So, the best I can hope for is that my Baptist friends will stop trying to appropriate the adjective “Reformed” and I’ll let them be Baptists. That seems like a fair trade.

      I understand that the world looks rather different in the UK, where non-conformist evangelicals feel marginalized. Here, in North America, however, it is confessional Reformed folk who are the “non-conformists.” We make up a tiny minority of evangelical believers in the USA (500,000 out of 60 million), a land awash (ahem) in Baptists, where Baptist theology, piety and practice is assumed as the norm and where the pressure for us to conform to Baptist assumptions is almost unbearable. Indeed, for many folk it is.

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