Below I noted an only semi-fictitious go-around with some rC’s (for those who haven’t been reading the blog for a while, that stands for “reformed Catholic”) where the constant shifting of the ground and circular argumentation was highlighted. And almost as if someone felt I needed a new example, this morning Mr. Johnson decided to chime in on the new edition of the Reformed Baptist Theological Review (RBTR I:2) which, along with a lot of other stuff, has the first half of my article on the New Covenant. Now, it seems rather painfully obvious to me, and I think to most of our readers, that if you are going to address the subject you do so first by providing an exegetical examination of the key texts and only then approach the differences that exist between credobaptists and paedobaptists on their application and understanding of those texts. Hence, the first half of the article is exegetical, and the second half (due out in January) will interact with two of the presentations found in The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism (Strawbridge). This is all laid out at the very beginning of the article.
Now remember as well that Mr. Johnson and some of his co-horts have often accused us of 1) causing issues by publicly attacking people, 2) of not publicly engaging the issues, 3) of naively thinking we can do “objective exegesis” and ignoring the testimony of “the church” and yet 4) not being consistent in our claimed belief in sola scriptura (whenever we address the writings of non-inspired authors). Also remember that twice a week we do a web-cast that almost always includes taking phone calls, toll-free, no less. So, with all of that in mind….
Well I finally received my copy of the ‘Reformed Baptist Theological Review’ and the long-awaited article by Dr. James White on Hebrews 8 and the New Covenant. Looks like I’m going to have to wait until “part two” because the devastation in the article of the Presbyterian view of the New Covenant promised by certain Reformed Baptists just wasn’t there.
Now, if I could suggest a little something. You will be able to search this website, the archives of the Dividing Line, and any number of other relevant sources, and you will not find anything wherein I have spoken of “devastating” anyone or anything. You see, if these rC’s had the first care about the only meaningful form of “ecumenism” a Christian could ever engage in, they would realize that my article is meant to promote just that. You see, unlike rC’s, who beat their opponents like red-headed step children, drive them back into caves, or seek to bury them under a mountain of obscure works of medieval philosophy, etc., I happen to get along with godly men with whom I have disagreements. When I have a foundation of common confession in the gospel of Jesus Christ with a man, I can go a very long way in discussion about issues upon which we disagree. That is what drives rC’s nuts, it seems, for they are constantly mocking those Presbyterians who can “cooperate” with us dreaded Baptists.
Now, apart from a rather childish complaint about the fact that the article is long enough to require it being split into to parts (oh, the shame!) and that it begins with exegesis (rC’s don’t tend to find that to be the most compelling portion of any argument anyway), I would like to inform Mr. Johnson that the only folks that I am concerned about reading the article and finding benefit therein are those who believe the Bible is the Word of God and as such it deserves the utmost respect in how we handle and hear its message. It is God-honoring ecumenism for me to disagree with the godly men I do in my response. If they, like I, honor the Word, they cannot possibly object to my response, for as any semi-unbiased person can see from reading the article, there is not a shred of ad-hominem argumentation in it. It just so happens that I do not personally know one of those whose position I review (Dr. Pratt), but I do know Pastor Niell, very, very well, and I have every confidence that he will read the exegesis for what it is, and reply on the basis thereof, not on the basis of childish claims of “devastation.” Jeff Niell is one of the most godly men I know, he is my brother, and though I disagree with him clearly and firmly on the matter of the exegesis of Hebrews 8, I, for one, will show what real ecumenism is by engaging that disagreement in the only way possible for those committed to the ultimacy of inspired Writ.
The exegesis provided by the article appears to be providing the Reformed Baptist view with something like a big tall house of cards just waiting to be blown down by a few rather standard Reformed observations. But, hey, “part two” will tell it all.
The readers will forgive me if I do not put a lot of stock in Mr. Johnson’s unbiased opinion.
I may post specific comments on the article later–I was just disappointed that there wasn’t more there that actually dealt with the Presbyterian/Reformed position–mostly just a lot of window-dressing and framing of the discussion in a way that will allow Dr. White to present a supposedly airtight case in the next article with all the attendant and necessary Reformed Baptist presuppositions having their bearing on the exegesis and interpretation of Scripture.
You would think that the 11,000 words of Part I would provide more than sufficient basis for in-depth demonstration of these “Reformed Baptist presuppositions,” yet, nothing is noted. How odd! One is left wondering how one is supposed to do exegesis and, at the same time “deal with the Presbyterian” position. Perhaps Mr. Johnson is not familiar with the process and work of exegesis? You have to have a foundation upon which to stand in engaging those extended issues, and that foundation is the text itself. Also, if someone would like to again document where I have used the term “airtight case” I would like to see it. And then, as if the preceding hadn’t been enough to make one’s head spin,
Oh well…at least Dr. White’s view is actually getting out into the open in a journal format allowing others to interact with it in a scholarly way. It may very well prove to be a valuable example of looking at how we moderns often try to engage the text. More on that later perhaps.
Getting out into the open? Oh yes indeed, I truly hide in the shadows, quiet and retiring as I am, away from all avenues of communication. I’ve never discussed any of this on the Dividing Line, and it was just a fluke that one of his compatriots on the Counter Reformation blog has accused me of seeking to start a “war” by preaching from the pulpit of the church where I am an elder on this very issue two years ago. Yes indeed, it’s great I’m finally “out there”!
I would like to invite Mr. Johnson and his compatriots to quit hiding behind their cadre of platitudes and actually engage the issue on the exegetical level. Don’t waste our time with your “But, but, you didn’t cite medieval authors!” stuff, don’t invest any more effort in attacking the very idea of doing exegesis, just get in there and say, “No, White is wrong, because the grammar and syntax would indicate this instead….” Otherwise, just openly admit that you can’t touch the text at that level, and that you prefer smoking a stogey with Chesterton while singing the praises of de Sales.