Engaging With 1689 (8): Keach Turns Abraham Into Moses (1) Updated

Benjamin Keach (1640–1704) was born to Anglican parents and raised in the established church. As a teen-ager, however, he joined the General Baptists, i.e., those separatists arising out of contact with and influence by the Dutch Mennonites in the Netherlands. The General Baptists were Arminian in their soteriology. Haykin, like other Particular Baptist writers, seeks to connect the Baptists (both General and Particular) with “the Puritans” (more later about this problematic category). He writes, the Baptists “emerged from the womb of Puritanism in the second decade of the seventeenth century.” This repeated claim illustrates the major problem of the very category “Puritans.” Were they conformists (e.g., Perkins, Sibbes, et al), non-conformists (e.g., Congregationalists, Presbyterians), radical (Brownists), Moderate (e.g., Ames)? How do Arminians “emerge” from a the womb of a movement whose soteriology is supposed to be strongly monergistic—except there is Richard Baxter, who is regularly described as a “Puritan,” (e.g., most notably perhaps by J. I. Packer) and yet who single-handedly laid siege to the material cause of the Reformation: justification by grace alone, through faith alone. How does a conforming and robustly Calvinist Anglican William Perkins belong to the same category as an initially Arminian, separatist, (General) Baptist Benjamin Keach? The plasticity of the category “Puritan” remains problematic. Continue reading →

Engaging With 1689 (7): John Spilsbury Contra Infant Baptism (part 2)

For Spilsbury, there was really only ever what the Reformed writers called “the substance” of the covenant of grace. There has always and only been one way of being in the covenant of grace, by grace alone, through faith alone. The only way infants could ever be in the covenant of grace would be if they were born regenerate (p. 14), born in a “saving estate of grace.” He knew, however, from Scripture that any such doctrine of infant regeneration “makes void many heavenly and divine truths that speak to the contrary” (ibid). He was quite aware of examples to the contrary, e.g., John the Baptist, but these, he argued were special cases about which we have divine revelation. We have no such revelation about our children and thus that example is not probative. Continue reading →

Engaging With 1689 (6): John Spilsbury Contra Infant Baptism

In part 5 we considered John Gill’s argument that infant initiation into the Abrahamic covenant is prima facie evidence that the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 17:10 was not a covenant of grace but, in fact, a covenant of works. In this installment . . . Continue reading →

Baptists And Federal Visionists Together?

Let us define our terms. A Baptist is someone who believes that baptism is only validly administered to professing believers. He denies that the infant children of believers are the proper subjects of baptism. A Federal Visionist is someone who, among other . . . Continue reading →

Engaging With 1689 (5): Was The Abrahamic Covenant Works Or Grace?

Now, that this covenant was not the pure covenant of grace, in distinction from the covenant of works, but rather a covenant of works, will soon be proved… John Gill, (1697–1771) A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity or a System . . . Continue reading →

Engaging With 1689 (4): On Galatians 4

It has been suggested that, however much Paul’s emphasis in chapter 3 is on the distinction between Moses and Abraham the point of chapter 4 on the continuity between Moses and Abraham or even their identity in the allegory in 4:21–31. The argument seems to be that because Abraham had two sons, Abraham is his two sons. In other words, as the argument seems to go, if Moses has a twofold character (and he does), then so does Abraham and thus the Abrahamic covenant is not fundamentally different from the Mosaic covenant. Continue reading →

Engaging With 1689 (3): Administration Or Intrusion?

I had intended to move on to consider the work of Nehemiah Coxe but life intervened. In the interim I was reminded of a document that I think might clarify some of the differences between what I am calling the PBs and . . . Continue reading →

Resources On The Role Of Abraham In Redemptive History

Moses Was Not Abraham Abraham Was Not Moses Abraham Was A Spiritual, Gracious Covenant The Abrahamic Covenant Unifies Redemptive History Luther: Christians Have The Same Faith As Abraham Abraham, Moses, and Circumcision We Are Abraham’s Children The New Covenant Is A Revision . . . Continue reading →

Engaging With 1689 (2): On The Administration Of The Substance Of The Covenant Of Grace

Last time I offered a rough taxonomy of contemporary Baptists in which I distinguished between Generic Evangelical Baptists (GEB), Older Particular Baptists (OPB), and the Particular Baptists (PB) and it is with this latter view than I am particularly interested in this . . . Continue reading →

Engaging With 1689 (1): A Quick Taxonomy

Recently I had opportunity to engage in a friendly dialogue with some Baptist academics over the merits of the project proposed in Recovering the Reformed Confession. That project is, as they say, wending through the publication process. Because of space limitations I was unable to do a couple of things, namely, to engage more fully with some of the texts and approaches to Baptist covenant theology (as distinct from Reformed covenant theology). Continue reading →