Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Baptismal Regeneration 8 -- What I Am Getting At

I think I should have began this examination by setting out what I am aiming at and then garnering evidence to support my argument. Perhaps this might have given my points more clarity. (Or maybe I am making things worse :) )

  • I believe the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is true.
  • BUT -- I define regeneration differently than a baptistic evangelical or a puritan Calvinist defines it.
  • If regeneration is defined the way a baptistic evangelical or puritan Calvinist defines it then the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is problematic.
  • BUT -- what if regeneration is not what baptistic evangelicals or puritan Calvinists believe it to be.
  • My exploration is an attempt to offer a different reading of texts often used to set forth the baptistic evangelical/puritan Calvinist view of regeneration.
  • If my reading is plausible, then a case can be made for baptismal regeneration.
  • The question of infant baptism is secondary -- that comes later.

So -- to get things straight -- when someone is baptized I do not believe they are infused with a kind of spiritual surge called "grace" that makes their dead spirit alive and subsequently makes them saved from here on out whether they believe or obey or not.

I believe baptism grafts one into the Church. This grafting places one in the fellowship of the people of God -- the community where the Holy Spirit is operative in forming the people of the new creation/the eschaton. This movement that takes place in baptism is new birth. As many of the early Fathers would have said -- regeneration and baptism are simply synonyms. Baptism is a threshold action that places one in Abraham's family - the Church (c.f., Galatians 3:26ff).

More to come ....

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