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Brandon Adams

Hi Shane,

Thanks for posting this. I’m glad you’re familiar with 1689 Federalism. Most NCT is not and thus do not address it in their writings. I went through the NCT introductory series at the PTS blog and commented on each post highlighting the agreements and disagreements between the two (though my comments are still awaiting admin approval): http://nct-blog.ptsco.org/2014/07/28/the-fundamentals-of-new-covenant-theology-revisited-part-1-nct-defined-i/

"the assertion that NCT rejects any notion of “moral law” is incorrect."

Depends on which NCT you talk to. Since you don’t share a common confession, you really can’t speak of any kind of unified NCT view on the matter. They made their statements based upon detailed interaction with NCT for 20+ years. That comment was based on specific statements from a variety of NCT writers (i.e. Lehrer, Wells, Reisinger, etc), whom you may or may not agree with. Furthermore, your answer was unclear as to whether or not you personally believe there is an unchanging standard of righteousness that is the same for all men at all times (the definition of moral law).

"While the CT Baptist would disagree over mode of baptism, he nevertheless accepts and embraces the Presbyterian rationale for it by clinging to the OT Law argument of the Westminster confession, and enshrining it himself in the 1689 London Confession."

This is incorrect. I would encourage you to study the issue in more depth. Paedobaptists do not justify paedobaptism through the moral law, but instead through the positive law of circumcision. We reject the concept that the Abrahamic covenant is the New covenant and thus we reject the idea that the positive law of circumcision remains binding (though “transformed” into baptism) in the New covenant. The Presbyterian rationale is not the moral law, but the Abrahamic Covenant. Again, I would encourage you to study the issue in more depth.

"Renihan's statements about how NCT just hasn't “thought through” the issues, was a little bit condescending in my opinion."

It’s a true statement, again from someone who has been interacting with NCT for a very long time and has seen the frequent shifts and changes in position for the very reason that things have not been thought through. NCT previously rejected the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, for example. Now they defend it as essential to the gospel.

"But once again, I think this is due in part to his recent discovery of NCT and his misunderstanding of it."

Not sure where you’re getting the idea that any of these men recently discovered NCT. Renihan and Barcellos have been aware of NCT for much, much longer than you have (I assume, based on your age). They've interacted with it since its inception. Perhaps your recent discovery of it has led you to misunderstand its history.

As for Barcellos, he is working on a second edition of In Defense of the Decalogue that will address the latest changes and advancements in NCT.

"His assertion that “we've never had such views in 2000 years of church history” is easily refuted by the very existence of the 1646 London Confession… With that said, one would have to examine the actual statements of the 1646 and 1689 documents and make determinations based on that. "

Renihan has done so, in extreme detail. Have you? Dr. Renihan did his PhD work on these men, so his comments should not be dismissed off-hand. See:

-DR. RENIHAN’S EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE 1ST LBC 1644/1646 [3 VIDEOS] http://confessingbaptist.com/dr-renihans-exposition-of-the-entire-1st-london-baptist-confession-3-videos/
-NEW COVENANT THEOLOGY AND THE 1644/1646 LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION http://confessingbaptist.com/new-covenant-theology-and-the-16441646-london-baptist-confession/
-CONFESSING THE FAITH IN 1644 AND 1689 http://www.reformedreader.org/ctf.htm
-Chapter 2 “Covenant Theology in the First and Second London Confessions of Faith” in Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology http://www.amazon.com/Recovering-Covenantal-Heritage-Covenant-Theology-ebook/dp/B00T68FFMK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424359611&sr=8-1&keywords=recovering+a+covenantal+heritage

"So Dr. Renihan's research as to what the signers held to is a bit of a polemic “red herring” in my opinion. Because it doesn't matter in determining which doctrinal statement is more accurate."

That is a rather poor way to view historical documents and reflects an ignorance of historical theology. Do you take the same approach to the U.S. Constitution? It doesn’t matter what was meant by the words that were written? It’s important to understand what was meant to make sure you’re not mis-reading the document.

"To sum it up, spending time researching what the signers of the documents might have believed might make for interesting discussion; but has no bearing on which document is more Biblically faithful. Examining both documents in light of Scripture would be much more profitable. When I examine the two, I find the 1646 to be more accurate and thus I hold to it."

Again, it does, because you need to make sure you have properly understood both documents if you are going to judge their Biblical accuracy. Of course, what ultimately matters is what Scripture teaches. But since you are making inaccurate claims about the 1644/46 Confession, it is necessary to demonstrate your error.

In addition to the PTS blog, I also recently responded to a Youtube critique of 1689 Federalism if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmviRWrqmJM

"But I would hope we could still hold to our positions while displaying genuine Christian love for one another."

I completely agree :) Thanks Shane

Shane Kastler

Hi Brandon,
Thanks for the comment. Interaction can be beneficial. Let me address a few of your comments.

First of all, I didn't say paedobaptists justify their action from the moral law. I said they justify it by linking it to circumcision through adherence to the “OT Law” as a whole. I specifically used the phrase “OT Law” rather than “moral law” or “Decalogue” so as to make that clear. In your refutation you quoted me word for word, then attacked an argument that I did not make. When you say they justify paedobaptism because of the Abrahamic Covenant you are agreeing with me. I didn't say they justified it from the Decalogue. To say circumcision is transferred to infant baptism in the New Covenant has no basis whatsoever in Scripture. You can hold to it if you wish. But you will be forced to find justification outside of the Bible.
Renihan engages in a little bit of theological “sleight of hand” when he attacks NCT for not embracing the “moral law” then he defines “moral law” as the 10 commandments. While there is undoubtedly not total agreement among NCT'ers as to what the “moral law” is; there is agreement that the unchanging moral law of God is NOT the 10 commandments. Even CT'ers who claim the Decalogue is “unchanging” must not really believe that. Because they immediately CHANGE the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday; and they routinely ignore the part about “6 days you shall work.” They may be strict Sabbatarians on Sunday, but if they also took Saturday off that week then, by definition, they broke the Sabbath. The Decalogue was never intended to be the “unchanging moral law” of God and is never presented as such in the Bible.
Regarding Renihan's condescending statements about NCT not having “thought through” the issues. You point out that he and Barcellos have studied it longer than I have. This is no doubt true. But have they studied it as long as Reisinger, Long, Wells, or Zaspel? Or have they studied it as long as D.A. Carson or John Piper or Tom Schreiner? Who all clearly hold to aspects of NCT, even if they don't use the title. These men are all as old (or older) than Renihan. So my assertion of his condescension stands on firm ground. You're assuming my ignorance based on my age. Is this how we want to settle debates? Based on age? The oldest person in the debate is automatically the winner? If so, Reisinger is in his 90s. I guess he wins. (Ha ha) Surely you see my point. I never claimed to have studied said issues longer than Renihan and Barcellos. But other men have and I found it condescending for Renihan to say they just haven't “thought through” the issues enough. Clearly implying that HE has and they need to emulate him. You may agree with Renihan whole-heartedly. That's fine. But his statement is still condescending.
You asked if I had compared the two doctrinal statements. Yes I have. I've written on it. And I've preached upon it. You said Renihan has done doctoral work upon it. Good for him. That doesn't make him right though.
You described me as “ignorant” of historical theology. With all due respect, you seem to suffer from the same malady as Renihan. You can't debate a person without insulting their intelligence and talking down to them. You said: “Dr. Renihan did his PhD work on these men, so his comments should not be dismissed off-hand.” I didn't dismiss his comments off-hand. I specifically addressed the arguments he made.....and I disagreed with him. If I shouldn't dismiss him because of his Ph.D.; then perhaps you shouldn't automatically dismiss me for my lack thereof. You argued against something that I never said. Then called me ignorant. Pay me the same courtesy that I paid Dr. Renihan. Address my arguments. And withhold the insults.
Regarding your example of the US Constitution; that would be comparing apples to oranges. The Constitution is a fine document, but I wouldn't pretend that it is in the same category of matters pertaining to Biblical truth. Finding the “original intent” of the framers is important. But if their “original intent” is flawed or incorrect, then the document needs changed or even rejected. I would hold that same standard to a doctrinal statement. Many within the CT movement seem to elevate doctrinal statements to a place of Scripture. I would reject that and hope that you would also. I was once rebuked by a devout CT'er because I cited a Bible verse to defend a position. He told me that if I could not cite a portion of the Westminster Confession then I shouldn't hold to it. I assume you would agree with me that this is extreme.
In closing, I do thank you for the comment and have enjoyed the interaction. We may not agree on this issue, but we do agree on much and can hopefully display true Christian charity for one another.
Blessings to you,

Brandon Adams


I think you missed each and every point.

Shane Kastler

Yes. Well, I answered each and every point. Just because I didn't answer the way you wanted me to doesn't mean I "missed the point" -- It means I disagree with you. That happens often in theological debate. Two intelligent people who love the scriptures and the Lord come to very different conclusions. That doesn't mean I'm "ignorant" of history or that I can't grasp your (self-perceived) brilliance. It just means we disagree. And we may just have to leave it at that for now.

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