Saturday, 31 May 2008

The New Covenant And Believers' Baptism (part 7)

(Part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six).

In this installment, we finish our review of Dr. Field's first post. Here's how he ends:
Abstraction. This all brings home that the idea of the NC in 3. above is an abstraction from the (true) doctrine of God having a certain and decreed invisible big-E elect.

8. There are, however, other ways of relating these realities. For example, let the OC [Old Covenant] = the historically observable manifestation of the CG [Covenant of Grace] pre-Jesus. Let the NC [New Covenant] = the historically observable manifestation of the CG post-Jesus. Then you are able at one and the same time to assert and understand the wonderful discontinuities between OC and NC (internalisation, internationalization, greater privileges, historical actualization, human maturation, intensive and extensive access, better motivation, greater permanence etc.) and to avoid the category confusion, disconnect, denial, and abstraction described above.
This is the same argument again, using different words. Dr. Field classifies talk of the elect as being invisible and intangible, then insists that such things can't be linked to historical covenants (which are visible). This, as we have observed, completely misses the point that there are visible fruits of election which spiritually minded and Biblically educated men are competent to make a judgment on. I think Dr. Field is one of the elect; his confession of faith in Christ, his many years labouring for the Lord, his conduct as testified to by other Christians and his godly standard of speech on his blog and so forth are not invisible. The hard and fast "election=invisible, covenant=visible" distinction that the whole argument is based upon simply doesn't work.

In fact, as a Reformed Baptist I don't have a problem with the supposedly alternative characterisation of the New Covenant given above, or see it as contradictory to the one given when viewing it from another angle. It is simply a false dichotomy that Dr. Field has set up to argue that the New Covenant can either be viewed as being made with the elect alone, or being the historically observable manifestation of the Covenant of Grace post-Jesus. Dr. Field is committing an equivocation fallacy upon the words "historically observable", which he through the assumptions of the Federal Vision defines in a very nuanced way. Baptist churches aren't actually invisible - you can observe them at work, and we know that as a former Baptist Dr. Field must surely have observed some at some stage in his theological journey!

No comments: