Wednesday, January 18, 2006can you judge fairly?
Sorry friends, but it was a trick question.
In my last post, I asked: "Can a Calvinist (one who believes in the 5 Doctrines of Grace), reject infant baptism and still be consistent in his/her theology? Or is he/she living with contradictions?" I had a pretty good idea how most of you would answer this question, and now, I'm afraid, I will be using your responses to make a point.
Most of you, in your answers went WAY FARTHER then just answering the question, affirming that there was no Biblical basis in infant baptism. Since I know that most of you are both Baptists and Calvinists, the expression of such views was not a shocking surprise.
The fact of the matter is, there is NO CONTRADICTION in a believer holding to the five Doctrines of Grace while rejecting Infant Baptism. Believer's Baptism does not negate, in any way, Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace or the Perseverance of the Saints. Calvinism is a soteriological view, Baptism, both Infant and Believer's, has nothing to do with the Doctrine of Salvation; as in, Baptism does NOT bring about any form of Salvation. Therefore, both doctrines are independent of each other.
The Punch Line:
In the last few weeks, I have been taken to task over my position on eschatology. I have never hid the fact that I was a Dispensationalist, but it would seem that most of you took special notice when I mentioned the fact a few weeks ago. The response was quick, and dare I say harsh. I received a few comments and a number of e-mails in which the basic theme was: "are you crazy? Don't you know that Dispensationalism is contrary to the Reformed view?"
The funny thing is that most of the saints who have authored these comments/e-mails were Baptists, saints that already rejected one of the main tenets of the Reformed view. Now before you all click on the Comment box link of this post, please consider my case carefully.
1- Read this definition of Dispensationalism (this definition, isn't a perfect definition, in that it's too concise, but the basics are there).
2- Find in the above definition a tenet that would make Dispensationalism contrary to any of the five Doctrines of Grace.
Good luck. You can play interpretive gymnastics 'till your brain jams, in the end, any honest soul will come to the very basic conclusion that Dispensationalism is an eschatological view that does not negate, in any shape or form, any of the tenets of the soteriological system called Calvinism. Just like Infant/Believer's Baptism have no bearing on the Doctrines of Grace (and vice-versa), Dispensationalism has no bearing Calvinism.
Some of you here will object: "if Dispensationalism isn't anti-Calvinism, why are most authors who defend the Dispensational view anti-Calvisnist?" To this I will answer: "if Believer's Baptism isn't anti-Calvinist, why are most who defend Believer's Baptism, anti-Calvinist?" The answer to both questions, dear readers, is quite simple. It is not that these doctrines are somehow connected to each other theologically, but rather, it is due to tradition and education. Most of the early reformers, having just come out of Romanism (as my friend Pete mentioned in his comment), continued to profess Infant Baptism, so when studying the Doctrines of Grace, many Christians not only get the Reformers view on Salvation, but they get their view on baptism as well. Similarly, most early Dispensationalists were anti-Calvinism, therefore, while studying the eschatological view, many saints are also influenced by these men's aversion of the Doctrines of Grace.
The fact that Charles Ryrie, Greg Laurie, and other Dispensationalists have written volumes of material against all facets of Reformed Theology means as much to me as the volumes John Calvin, Martin Luther and other reformers wrote against Baptists (or Anabaptists). And for the record: quoting men like Greg Laurie and Tim LaHaye to bash Dispensationalism is like an Arminian quoting Phred Phelps and Karl Barth to bash Calvinism. An honest soul desiring to get the jist of Calvinism reads Calvin's Institutes, Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism, or R.C. Sproul's Chosen By God. Similarly, an honest soul who desires to get a clear picture of Dispensationalism reads Pentecost's Things To Come, Walvoord's The Blessed Hope And The Tribulation, or the treasury of notes in the New Scofield Bible written by an elite group of Bible scholars which included Charles Feinberg, who incidently, was a Calvinist.
I know that this post will not stop all false accusations against Dispensationalism; the fact of the matter is, it is far easier attacking straw men than shaking off the laziness and actually studying. Some of you will continue to enjoy casting the old "disappearing/raptured airline pilot" scenario in my teeth, and quote endlessly the nonsense Tim LaHaye comes up with in one of his books/movies. So be it. All I ask of such souls is the next time they are faced with an anti-Calvinist, harping on the multiple Calvinist straw men, that they at least TRY to not be to hypocritical.
My fundamental 0.02$,