How Many Dispensations Are There In The New Testament Period?


#1

The Augustinian has challenged me to a debate about the number of dispensations in the New Testament Period. He thinks that there is only one dispensation in that period and I believe that there is more than one dispensation for that same period.

For a bit of background on the topic, read our last couple posts in the thread Where does Paul fit into the authority debate?

In fact, I will post my last response to The Augustinian so that we can pick up from there.

Also, for anyone that wants to get a good overview of my view, check out the article The Twelve Dispensations and this helpful **CHART **that goes along with it.

This thread is primarily for The Augustinian and me, but others are welcome to add their comments and questions if they think they are good and useful comments and questions that will increase understanding for at least one of us :wink:


#2

The Augustinian said

I would agree that God guided Paul to the Gentiles, and that there was a radical shift in practice which allowed the Apostles to abolish circumcision and dietary practice.

Good.

However, I do not think this was a result of a formation of a totally new body of believers, but as a result of a clarification of doctrine resulting in a change in disciplinary practice at the local Council of Jerusalem.

A “clarification”? What gives you the impression that no longer requiring circumcision and obedience to the law is just a “clarification”? And what is it that those in Jerusalem believe that needs to be clarified that Christ taught them during His earthly ministry? I mean, Jesus taught The Twelve for a good 3 years and never said anything about the Body of Christ in which there is no Jew or Gentile and which obtains a righteousness apart from the law. Jesus gave The Twelve a complete set of doctrine (Matt 28:20) and a plan to reach the entire world through a redeemed Israel (Acts 1:8). So, do you really want to say that Christ raised up Paul and revealed to him the mystery to simply “clarify” what He had taught The Twelve for 3 years during His earthly ministry.

You said

The post-Jerusalem Church was the same, just as the post-Vatican II Church is the same, although there were certain huge differences.

The sort of new knowledge that Christ revealed to Paul is of a totally different order then any new changes to practice or the like that we find in Vatican II. For one thing, we are informed that the Body of Christ was a secret hid in God until it was revealed to Paul, and even more importantly we are told that the Body of Christ is God’s “eternal purpose” (Eph 3:11). Israel was a means to an end. God’s plan was to use that nation in order to bring about the Body of Christ at some point, probably after Christ had returned to rule over a united Israel (made up of Judea and Samaria) during The Twelve’s lifetime.

You said

A better question would be, were the Judaizers sinning? If your position is correct, the Judaizers would be “Circumcision Believers” and thus do not sin by practicing the ceremonial precepts of the Old Law, although arguably they would sin by trying to proselytize Gentile believers.

Yes, that is exactly what we find in the New Testament record! The Circumcision Believers were obeying Christ’s teaching, which they had no reason to doubt was innacurate or incomplete in any way. Christ taught His desciples and their converts to go only to Jews and to not have anything to do with the Gentiles as the following passages demonstrate.

[list]
*]Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.
*]Matthew 15:22-24 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
*]Acts 10:28 Then he said to them, **"You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
*]Acts 11:2-3 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”[/list]

These passages clearly establish that The Twelve and their desciples were to not associate with uncircumcised Gentiles who do not keep the law. This command was to be followed until God made it clear that He had accepted the uncircumcised by faith apart from keeping the law. God did this around Acts 9 according to what Paul tells us of his experience with Christ and according to what Peter informs us of his dealings with Cornelius’ house and the others in Jerusalem in Acts 10 and 11.**


#3

The Augustinian said

However, if the Catholic position is correct, the Judaizers were committing a sin. I hope this is an accurate distinction between the two positions.

I don’t know any Catholics who I have talked with who believe that Peter and the others in Jerusalem were committing a sin by keeping the law as Christ commanded them to do. Most everyone I have talked with about this recognizes that their keeping the law, both the weightier and the lesser matters, were doing the right thing since Jesus explicitly commands them to obey the law (Matt 5:17-20; 28:20) and to even go beyond obeying the law by doing things like selling all their possessions and leaving their families (Matt 19:2,29; Acts 1:14-15; 2:1; 5:1-6). The only way that these Circumcision Believers would be sinning is if they tried to make those in the Body of Christ feel obligated to become circumcised and keep the law, which the leadership of the Circumcision Believers in Jerusalem recognized as not being the right thing to do (Acts 15:24).

You said

I also hold the following theses:

  1. That there is absolutely no support by the Church Fathers for a second dispensation.

So what? They don’t even try to tackle the topic. Silence by the church fathers does not nullify what is found in Scripture. The vast majority of church fathers have nothing to say about the alleged assumption of Mary and there is no evidence at all for the doctrine in Scripture. Do you not believe the assumption of Mary then, because the large majority of church fathers have nothing to say about the idear in their writings?

  1. That water baptism has been valid ever since its promulgation by Our Lord and is necessary for salvation.

Just because some people believe this does not make it true. We have Paul’s rejection of the necessity of water baptism and his explicit statement that water baptism is not a part of the gospel he preached in 1 Cor 1:14-17. Passages such as 1 Cor 12:13, Eph 4:5 and Col 2:10-11 corroborate this doctrine that the only baptism necessary today is the baptism by the Holy Spirit which baptizes us into the Body of Christ upon our acceptance of the gospel. Besides, water baptism is an ordinance of the law that Israel was to perform (Num 8:7; 19:13,18-21; Ezek 36:25). In the Body of Christ, we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law, including the work of water baptism.


#4

[quote=TheOpenTheist]Just because some people believe this does not make it true. We have Paul’s rejection of the necessity of water baptism and his explicit statement that water baptism is not a part of the gospel he preached in 1 Cor 1:14-17. Passages such as 1 Cor 12:13, Eph 4:5 and Col 2:10-11 corroborate this doctrine that the only baptism necessary today is the baptism by the Holy Spirit which baptizes us into the Body of Christ upon our acceptance of the gospel. Besides, water baptism is an ordinance of the law that Israel was to perform (Num 8:7; 19:13,18-21; Ezek 36:25). In the Body of Christ, we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law, including the work of water baptism.
[/quote]

If you’re implying that Holy Baptism as instituted by Christ is the same as that of the ritual washings done by the Jews, because that is incorrect.

The mikvah or ritual washing that was done by the Jews could be done multiple times, and was linked with the notion of ritual cleanliness. A similar pagan ritual would be the misogi done in Shintoism. The mikvah was also St. John’s baptism, of which he said (Mk 1): “I have baptized you with water; but he (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.”

Note that he says that Christ will baptize with the Holy Ghost. Christ Himself says (Jn 3): “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water **and **the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The original Greek literally translates to “water-and-spirit” which implies that these two aspects are really one. And, the words of institution were (Matt 28): “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

So, we can at least agree that Jesus’ baptism was very much different from the Jewish mikvah, and that it was a baptism “with the Holy Ghost.” And merely because it had an Old Testament antecedent (the mikvah) doesn’t make it a throwback to that antecedent, because Holy Communion, which St. Paul clearly supports and assumes hasn’t gone away (I Cor 11) also had an antecedent in the Todah sacrifice (Ex 24) which was also an offering of bread and wine.

To go over St. Paul’s view of baptism, your prooftexts are inconclusive when taken in context, and even go against your theology. First, your citation of I Corinthians 1 is taken out of context. St. Paul here is emphasizing the centrality of Christ to the gospel against schisms. St. Paul here isn’t saying that water baptism is inapplicable to the Church; he is emphasizing the importance of Christ, from Whom baptism has its power. As for the other verses, which emphasize one baptism, these verses do not support your theory of two baptisms or two different dispensations. For is the Lord the Lord of two sets of believers? There is, instead “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.” Your error is in dividing Holy Baptism into a baptism by water and a baptism by the Holy Spirit, where from the beginning it was always involving both.


#5

[quote=TheOpenTheist]Silence by the church fathers does not nullify what is found in Scripture. The vast majority of church fathers have nothing to say about the alleged assumption of Mary and there is no evidence at all for the doctrine in Scripture. Do you not believe the assumption of Mary then, because the large majority of church fathers have nothing to say about the idear in their writings?
[/quote]

God’s Covenant and the Assumption of Our Lady are on totally different levels (one is part of the other). Perhaps there are many Fathers who have not spoken about the end of the Blessed Virgin’s life, but pretty much all of them have written about the Church and its fundamental structure. Let me quote one of the *earliest *church fathers:

St. Ignatius of Antioch (auditor of St. John), writing to the Ephesians (c. 100): “For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.” These last words imply that the Ephesians practiced water baptism. These same Ephesians who were, according to St. Ignatius “initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred, the deservedly most happy…” So, if this was the same Ephesian Church that St. Paul wrote to, then why (if you are correct) are they practicing water baptism?


#6

Sorry for the delay in response. I just finished up a 3 week job and had to make a dash in order to get another job lined up ASAP. I responded to some posts tonight in another thread so I could focus on this one Wednesday night. Looking forward to continuing this dialogue.

Hope you’re having a blessed week and following the Apostle Paul’s advice :thumbsup:


#7

I am very sorry for the slowness in response. I would like to do at least one post a day in this thread so we can get through a good deal within the next 2 weeks or so.

I landed a great job less than a block down the street that started Monday. thats the good news. the bad news is that its 10-11 hours a day :eek: But, that has a good side since that means more money for me to use for growing my business (which will be run in the evening pretty much from now on) and the fact that I have enough money from a 2 week paycheck to order a bunch of Survivors hoodies, which the kids in this area and around the nation really dig a lot :slight_smile: Got a few outstanding orders I can deliver on now, so thats a big weight off my back.

I also had my PC cleared and redone by my brother who is in his 5th year of computer tech study at Ball State. That made things more difficult even though I saved most of what was important.

I can give a brief response now before heading to bed.

Concerning the writings of the church fathers and the weight I place on them when forming my beliefs:

Whatever the church fathers say or teach still must bow to the teaching that has been God-breathed into the Scriptures. And that means primarily the doctrines according to the revelation of the mystery that Christ revealed to Paul. That is, the most recent public revelation from God. And let’s face it. The church fathers have been wrong about a lot of things. They have promoted some very aggregious errors. Some of those teachings include the denial of the humanity of Jews (based on genetic or inherited sin from their ancestors who had a part in crucifying Christ) and the teaching that no member of the Body of Christ can practice anything that is associated with being Jewish or Judaism (the believer must do away with all jewry as one council put it).

What makes these errors so bad, is the fact that they contradict completely what Christ revealed to Paul. The revelation that Jew and Gentile are on common ground and that God no longer makes a distinction between people groups is a major doctrine of the Body of Christ. The fact that church fathers taught anti-semitism is reason enough for anyone to examine their work and subject it to criticism based upon what the Word of God says.

Of course, there are other egregious errors that church fathers held and taught. I am making this brief, so I will mention one more. One of the worst and most influential errors in church history is the belief that Augustine held and promoted which says that God cannot be affected by anything - that God is utterly immutable. We know from his writings that he held this view first and then Ambrose helped him to retain this view so that Augustine could then accept the Bible and the Christian faith. For references concerning this error read the following article Can God Change or Be Influenced by Anything?

It is not until the last five centuries or so that the Body of Christ has come out and seriously examined and challenged this doctrine of utter immutability (men like Arminius). Within the last two centuries some rejected it, favoring a view of God’s relation to creation that is much more in line with the God revealed in the Bible (McCabe, Brents, Ramsay, Clark, Hibbard, Hayes; and Catholic Jules Lequyer). Within the last few decades many more have rejected the idea of an utterly immutable God altogether (even Calvinists), whether favoring some form of “free-will theism” or the Open View of God. God has broken through and cast off the chains of the immutable and deterministic God that were cast upon us by Augustine and “the tradition” that followed (despite Calcidius’ early refutation of determinism in the 5th century).

I have much more to say, but must sleep now. Looking forward to posting a more detailed response very soon :thumbsup:


#8

Although I am not a patristics scholar, I don’t think that all the Fathers were guilty of anti-Semitism. Moreover, aren’t we, the Church, not to practice the Jewish Law? The Fathers who advised against Jewish practices were, to an extent, right. I think you are practicing the logical fallacy of “poisoning the well.”

Moreover, I do not think of them as individuals who stand alone, but as evidence about what everyone believed concerning doctrine back in the earliest centuries. The reason why I chose St. Ignatius of Antioch to refute your doctrine is that he wrote to the Ephesians in the first century. Indeed, some of his audience may have been in the same generation as Paul. Yet they accept water baptism. Why would that be?

As for arguments for or against determinism or the limitations of God, that is for another thread. Stick to dispensations, please!


#9

I think that St. Augustine can be right, but also suggest the following from the standpoint of postmill as an additional level of interp:

Historicism and the Seven Days / Heads

on my blog.

GB,
scott


#10

The Augustinian said

Although I am not a patristics scholar, I don’t think that all the Fathers were guilty of anti-Semitism.

I never claimed that all the fathers taught a virulent form of anti-semitism. My point in bringing up this big time error is to point out that those fathers basicly ignored what Christ revealed to Paul about the standing of the Jews and the rest of humanity before God. I don’t believe that I can claim that these guys were unaware of what Christ revealed about Jew and Gentile in Paul’s epistles, but it seems that they acted as if they did not possess knowledge of the mystery. How else could they write such things had they been aware of what Paul wrote concerning the matter in Rom, 1 Cor, Gal, Eph, Col.

you asked

Moreover, aren’t we, the Church, not to practice the Jewish Law?

We are not to practice it for the sake of being accepted by God. A good example is circumcision. Many parents circumcise their sons today, but not to be in good standing with God as Abraham and Israel did from Gen 17 on. Likewise, if you find it helpful to abstain from pork or other foods that happen to be on the list of unclean or forbidden foods that God gave to Israel, then that is fine. Just so long as a person does not do these things with the expectation that they will one day be judged by the law and be justified by works as the circumcision gospel and James said in his epistle (Jam 2:9; 2:24).

you claimed

The Fathers who advised against Jewish practices were, to an extent, right.

To the extent that they taught that keeping the law was not necessary for salvation and should not be thought of as being required to be accepted by God, yes they are correct. The teaching that each generation of Jews becomes more evil than the previous, and the teaching that anyone who prayed with a Jew (as JPII did) was to be excommunicated, are doctrines of demons.

you claimed

I think you are practicing the logical fallacy of “poisoning the well.”

Its called practicing caution once it has been discovered that many church fathers wrote and taught as if the revelation of the mystery to Paul never occured and also teach and write things contrary to the revelation of the mystery.

you said

Moreover, I do not think of them as individuals who stand alone, but as evidence about what everyone believed concerning doctrine back in the earliest centuries.

The claim that everyone believes or accepts a specific doctrine is just a claim that is extremely hard to substantiate, especially back in those times. Back in those days, you only knew the views of less than 1% of the church. Most of what was talked about and believed by different groups was not written down, since writing letters and books was not nearly as easy to accomplish and duplicate as it is today after the invention of the printing press. Even if a majority of those in the church believed that water baptism was a necessary practice for membership within the Body of Christ, that would not make it true that water baptism is a necessity for membership in the Body.

you said

The reason why I chose St. Ignatius of Antioch to refute your doctrine is that he wrote to the Ephesians in the first century. Indeed, some of his audience may have been in the same generation as Paul. Yet they accept water baptism. Why would that be?

Its extremely possible that legalism crept into that church and as a result they accepted the requirement of one or more works that those who wished to join them must perform in order to truly be a member of their congregation. This even happens within the best Grace Churches, as the very wise and experienced pastor Bob Hill will tell you. I am not at all under the impression that the Ephesian church was anywhere near perfect. If you also are under the same impression, then it stands to reason that accepting the possibility that the Ephesians were a little bit off is a perfectly acceptable conclusion to reach.

continued…


#11

…continued

I’ve just read over Ignatius’ Epistle to the Galatians - both versions even!

It is not at all clear that Paul is referring to water that the Ephesians allegedly were using to practice water baptism. It partly depends on which version you believe is the right one, which makes this reference a very poor one to use for establishing the calim that the Ephesians practiced water baptism. It is interesting to note that Ignatius refers to three mysteries in his epistle. And water baptism is not one of them :eek:

Here is what the two different versions of the epistle say:

VERSION 1 He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.

VERSION 2 He was born and was baptized by John, that He might ratify the institution committed to that prophet.

The most we can say here is that it is inconclusive whether or not Ignatius wrote that the Ephesians practiced water baptism using some sort of holy water.

The one thing I would recommend most to the Ephesians is that they read and study carefully the epistle Paul wrote to them (written decades before Ignatius’ epistle) to keep from sliding into legalism. I would especially reference these passages which show that you become a member of the Body of Christ once you believe the gospel and not after you have been water baptized.

You can get more info on Ignatius’ writings at this helpful site ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-01/anf01-15.htm

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in the heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him you also [trusted,] after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, HAVING BELIEVED, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

you said

As for arguments for or against determinism or the limitations of God, that is for another thread. Stick to dispensations, please!

Anyone can see that the reason I brought up Augustine’s erroneous teaching concerning the doctrine of God was to demonstrate that Augustine taught a gross error which would influence many over the next 1500 years to accept his erroneous reasoning. I also referenced that error to show how Augustine came to the conclusion that God is utterly immutable (contrary to what Scripture teaches). You can read his reasoning by clicking on the link I gave in my last post. Basicly, Augustine accepts Plato’s philosophy first and only later comes around to accept the Bible and the Christian faith once Ambrose explains away over two dozen passages that show God responding and repenting in response to His creation.

Oh, and I do not believe that God is limited other than having logical limits. God chooses to limit Himself so that He may have a genuine relationship with His creation. God limits Himself by choice, not out of necessity. God is free to do that and has done so according to what the Bible reveals of God.


#12

If you believe God does not logically contradict Himself, how can you then believe that He, an infinite being, can make Himself finite by limiting His ability to know, or to see, or to act? The infinite becoming finite is a contradiction. Our Lord is not a counterexample, because although He was limited in His humanity, He was unlimited in His divinity. If you take the verses in the Bible of God supposedly repenting and changing His mind literally, I wonder what you think of the six-day creation, or of the verses implying that the world is flat?

As for St. Ignatius, the shorter version of his epistle, which I cited in my post, is accepted by scholars as genuine. Of course, even if it is genuine, and that he is speaking of water baptism, you would still not accept this because you suppose it to be based upon some sort of corruption. Indeed, any early Christian writer who contradicts your theology you take to be the product to a great corruption which happened quite early in the Church. Obviously, you have no faith in the Holy Spirit to preserve doctrine.

You also did not address my exposition of the mikvah, or of the nature of baptism as written by St. Paul. Nowhere in his epistles do I find a repudiation of baptism as such, nor of a replacing of baptism with a waterless spiritual baptism. After all, how can there be baptism without actual washing?

I do not believe that baptism is a work; we do not take baptism unto ourselves, but we recieve it as from the power of God. God can use matter in order to communicate His grace to us. Moreover, is not saying the “Sinner’s Prayer” supposedly a “work” in itself?


#13

The Augustinian said

If you believe God does not logically contradict Himself, how can you then believe that He, an infinite being, can make Himself finite by limiting His ability to know, or to see, or to act? The infinite becoming finite is a contradiction.

Let’s examine the attributes of God and see how well the idea of infinity explains those attributes for a moment. Referring to God as infinite isn’t very helpful when explaining God’s attributes. Its just a word that gets thrown around with next to no regard for what Scripture says about God.

For example, when explaining how God exercises His soverignty over creation referring to His sovereignty as infinite is completely unhelpful. For one thing, infinity refers to mathematical subjects and concepts. God has not chosen to exercise infinite soverignty according to Scripture. He exercises His sovereignty generally. He delegates authority to men and angels, for example. God does not micromanage His creation. To put it another way God does not directly govern every action that occurs within creation. The actions that we choose and perform are indeed OUR actions.

Another example would be God’s patience or longsuffering. God is very patient, but there is a time when His patience will run out for this world so “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him.” (Eph 1:10) and eventually judge the wicked and cast them into Hell. In other words, God’s patience is not infinite.

you claimed

Our Lord is not a counterexample, because although He was limited in His humanity, He was unlimited in His divinity.

That is not true according to Scripture. God reveals that the Son “emptied Himself of all but love” (Phil 2:7) for our sakes. Jesus Christ did not possess omniscience according to several verses including the following

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

John 11:34-36 [Jesus] said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

Mark 13:32 " But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Hebrews 5:6-8 As [He] also [says] in another [place:] “You [are] a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”; 7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, [yet] He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

Some attributes are more central to who God is than others. When it comes to the person of God, love rules over power, control (or sovereignty), knowledge (or omniscience) and even location (since God will not be in Hell).

you asked

If you take the verses in the Bible of God supposedly repenting and changing His mind literally, I wonder what you think of the six-day creation, or of the verses implying that the world is flat?

There are no passages which state that the Earth is flat. The sabbath is based on God having created the world in six days and Jesus affirmed all that Moses wrote (Ex 20:11; John 5:45-47; Matt 5:17-20).

If those passages that clearly say God repented of what He said He would do do not in fact mean that God repented of what He said He would do, then what do those passages mean? What are they telling us about God that is reality-depicting?

You probably are not aware of this, but Israel had a creedal statement that appears twice in the Bible that reveals that one of God’s attributes is His willingness to repent from doing harm.

Jonah 4:2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You [are] a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who repents from doing harm.

Joel 2:13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, For He [is] gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He repents from doing harm.


#14

you said

As for St. Ignatius, the shorter version of his epistle, which I cited in my post, is accepted by scholars as genuine. Of course, even if it is genuine, and that he is speaking of water baptism, you would still not accept this because you suppose it to be based upon some sort of corruption. Indeed, any early Christian writer who contradicts your theology you take to be the product to a great corruption which happened quite early in the Church. Obviously, you have no faith in the Holy Spirit to preserve doctrine.

Thats almost correct. I believe that Ignatius is saying that Christ being baptized by John legitimized John the Baptist’s ministry which prepared the way for Him. The statement says nothing about the work of water baptism being carried on into the dispensation of grace where justification is based on faith alone. You are reading more into Ignatius’ words than I am.

And if you think it somehow strange that I believe that there was much corruption very early on then your words also apply to Ignatius who said in his Epistle to the Ephesians

Pray ye for the Church which is in Syria, whence I am led bound to Rome, being the last of the faithful who are there, even as I have been thought worthy to be chosen to show forth the honour of God.

This statement is in agreement with what Paul wrote in 2 Tim 1:15

2 Timothy 1:15 This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

The judaizers were also working against Paul preaching the old Circumcision Gospel (Acts 15; Gal 1-3) which had run its course years earlier when God cut off Israel and started the Body of Christ giving Paul the Uncircumcision Gospel.

you said

You also did not address my exposition of the mikvah, or of the nature of baptism as written by St. Paul.

Its really a mute point since water baptism is clearly a work just as the ritual washing that Israel performed was a work. The fact that it is a work disqualifies it from being necessary for salvation/redemption/justification.

you said

Nowhere in his epistles do I find a repudiation of baptism as such, nor of a replacing of baptism with a waterless spiritual baptism. After all, how can there be baptism without actual washing?

The fact that Paul states that water baptism is NOT a part of the gospel he preaches is a very strong statement showing that water baptism is not at all necessary for salvation/redemption/justification.

Remember what I wrote about the genitive case showing possession in another thread? Titus 3:5 shows that the washing is not of water, but of regeneration. Being regenerated washes and cleanses you.

Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

And consider this. The way we are justified is compared to the way Abraham was justified by faith before God made the covenant of circumcision with him (Rom 4). Abraham was justified apart from water baptism as we are. There is an actual washing that is performed by the Holy Spirit. Its the washing of our soul/spirit, appropriated by grace through faith, which makes us acceptable to God.

you said

I do not believe that baptism is a work;

Well of course you don’t! You’ll talk as if water baptism is as much a work as circumcision was for Israel (even claiming that water baptism replaces circumcision!) and then turn around and claim “I don’t believe its a work” despite its obviously being a work. You talk like this so that you can mix the Circumcision Gospel which required works for justification with the Uncircumcision Gospel which does not require works for justification. And this is the result.

you said

we do not take baptism unto ourselves, but we recieve it as from the power of God.

Thats not accurate. You must request to be water baptized in order to receive it within the catholic church, unless you are incapacitated or too young to request or deny it.

you said

God can use matter in order to communicate His grace to us.

Just because He can doesn’t mean that He is doing so presently.

you asked

Moreover, is not saying the “Sinner’s Prayer” supposedly a “work” in itself?

Absolutely not! The “Sinner’s Prayer” as its often referred to is simply a person excercising their faith in Christ, repenting of their sins and asking for forgiveness and salvation through Christ’s work (not their work) on the cross (Rom 10:9-10; Eph 2:8-9). Having faith or believing is not a work (Rom 4:5).


#15

[quote=TheOpenTheist] The fact that Paul states that water baptism is NOT a part of the gospel he preaches is a very strong statement
[/quote]

Paul’s denial does not degrade baptism; he is simply emphasizing that baptizing is not his **primary **role. As an Apostle, Paul’s primary job is to preach the gospel, teaching those seeking God to be baptized. The one who performs a baptism is God’s instrument; The convert’s loyalty must be to God alone.

Orthodox study Bible on 1 Cor 1:15-17



#16

** **Peter and Paul were responsible to reach one segment of the population in the central part of the Roman Empire: Peter the circumcised (Jews), Paul the uncircumcised (Gentiles). The others of the twelve also did evangelistic work, as did the Seventy. (Luke 10)
One God gave one gospel through two apostles, to two different ethnic groups.

Orthodox study Bible for Gal 2:7-8


#17

[quote=St. Ignatius] Pray ye for the Church which is in Syria, whence I am led bound to Rome, being the last of the faithful who are there, even as I have been thought worthy to be chosen to show forth the honour of God.
[/quote]

It’s quite odd that you use this, and 2 Timothy to show that there was some sort of Judaization of the Church. Neither of these reference creeping legalism or corruption per se. Indeed, there were many different sects, especially Gnostic sects, which lured Christians away. Moreover, this turning away could also refer to apostasy under Roman persecution.

It is more likely that there was a de-Judaization, especially after the triumph at the Council of Jerusalem. Paul had an enormous impact on the Church; if he preached that water baptism was not necessary, you would think that some churches would preserve that rule! And yet, water baptism was universal. Even when Arianism reared its ugly head there was a sizable remnant of Orthodox believers, including the Bishop of Rome! And yet this mysterious Judaization revived water baptism universally among the Christians.

The trouble with your theological beliefs, from what I know of so-called “Grace” believers, is that you do not practice baptism at all, and claim that the Body of Christ did not practice baptism. And that is nonsense. Show me historical evidence of one sect, one sect! that believed the same as you do. And don’t regurgitate the same verses at me. You quote verses at me, I quote verses at you, and the Devil laughs at our folly.

As for your equivocation of water baptism and circumcision, I say yes, they are similar, because they are signs of the covenant. However, the perfect (baptism) has replaced the imperfect (circumcision). Circumcision and the works of the law could save no-one. It only saved through the faith of the person. Baptism has power in and of itself, through Christ Himself. When we are baptised we are washed with the Blood of Christ. That is the washing of regeneration and the Holy Spirit. Yes, water baptism is a work. But whose work is it? Not of man, should he boast, but of God! The Lutherans (of all people) have a great explanation of this at the LCMS site: Faith and Baptism

Imagine a desert. You are a lost traveler, dying of thirst. Suddenly a man comes with a canteen of water. He offers you the water, and you take it. Now, did you conjure up the water, or dig a well? Did you buy the water from the good man, or take it from him by force? No: he offered it to you, and you trusted him, so you took the water. In the same way, Christ Jesus offers us His living water in the form of baptism to us wanderers in the desert of this world. Amen.


#18

Turning to St. Ignatius:

My spirit abases itself for the sake of the Cross, which is an offence to the unbelievers, but to us it is salvation and life eternal. Where is the wise man? Where is he that disputeth? Where is the boasting of the so-called men of understanding? For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary according to a Divine purpose, of the seed of David, and yet of the Holy Spirit; Who was born and baptized, that by His Passion He might purify water.

Now, if this referred to St. John’s baptism, then why does it say that His Passion (which occurred after the death of the Baptist) purified the water? A footnote by J.H. Srawley explains the discrepancy of the two versions:

The thought of Ignatius appears to be that by His own baptism our Lord set apart and appropriated water to the use of His Church in the future for the Sacrament of Baptism. The virtue of baptism, however, was derived from the cleansing power of the Cross communicated in the Sacrament. Hence the reference to the Passion. Similarly the water of Baptism is connected with the Cross in Barnabas II.

The Epistle of Barnabas was written in the first century, and asserts baptism while at the same time emphasizing the end of Jewish practices such as keeping the Sabbath and circumcision. So, the writer is neither, according to your definition, in the camp of the Kingdom Believers or the camp of the Body of Christ! Indeed, if Christian baptism is a work of the law, and to be rejected along with the works of the Judaizers, then why are do the writings of all these anti-Judaizers implicitly accept Christian baptism?


#19

Since the heresy of mid-Acts dispensationalism go against not only Catholicism and Orthodoxy, but Reformed and Lutheran theology and even classical dispensationalism, I’d like to know your impressions. I never intended it to be a debate thread between myself and TheOpenTheist, although he seems to have thought so. So, please join in!

The Augustinian


#20

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Now, I’m just waiting for TheOpenTheist to respond to the lengthy posts which I wrote here, which are as substantive as the ones I wrote in the other thread concerning St. Paul’s authority (which is also a poll thread for some reason).

To tie up loose ends, I’ll answer some points which remained unanswered. You implied that Christ did not have full knowledge and emptied Himself as God. In other words, He denied his omniscience, etc. This is not scriptural; Philipians 2:7 read in context does not imply that Christ limited Himself essentially but rather “emptied Himself” by taking on lowly human flesh. This website explains in detail the flaws of such kenotic theology. Like I wrote before, Christ increased in knowledge as a human being, not as God, who is always perfect in knowledge.

As for the patience of God, patience is accidental, based upon the actions of others. We are made impatient by others for various reasons, some justified, and some unjustified. God is perfectly patient, because His patience is absolutely dependent upon His justice and mercy, which are like two halves of the same coin. Indeed, if He never became impatient, then He would not be just, because then He would let all the injustice in the world continue unabated.

God does indeed micromanage the universe. He sustains all being in the cosmos, and we can only act if permitted by Him. If God truly rested, then we would blink out of existence. I find this more sensible and even comforting than a god who is blind to the future and does not know where his own creation is going!


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