Monday, June 14, 2010

R.J. Rushdoony: God's sovereignty and predestination vs. sacramentalism and baptismal regeneration

The conflict between God and man over the issue of sovereignty comes about in various ways. An important instance of the clash can be found in the rise of English Arminianism between c. 1590 and 1640. The basic problem was one of predestination versus sacramentalism, or, more specifically, predestination versus baptismal regeneration. If God saves man by His sovereign predestinating grace, then baptism is an outward witness to an inner grace, and to God's covenant promise. It witnesses to the fact that God has a covenant of grace with His people. It is, according to chapter 27 of the Westminster Confession, "a sign and seal of the covenant of grace." It witnesses to what God has promised and to what God has done; it is not itself the ingrafting into Christ, or regeneration, or remission of sins, but a witness to what God in His sovereign grace does. The salvation is from God, not from the rite nor the church. The Larger Catechism, A. 165 says of baptism,
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ has ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord's.
Behind a man's baptism there stands God's sovereign decree, and Christ's atonement in satisfaction of God's justice. To affirm baptismal regeneration means to transfer the saving power from the Lord who ordains baptism to the rite itself, and to the church which performs the rite. (R.J. Rushdoony, Sovereignty, p. 72)

1 comment:

  1. Here is a very good anti-predestination argument formulated by a Catholic priest who is a former Calvinist himself, Fr. Paul Rothermel...

    A true Calvinist teaches that everything that happens has been predestined before the foundation of the world. Thus, according to Calvinism, because I have free agency and no true power to choose contraries (i.e., free will), I do voluntarily what I could never do otherwise.

    Thus, "My sins last week happened; they were certain to happen; and they were predestined before the foundation of the world. I freely did evil, but I could not have done otherwise."

    A true Calvinist admits this. Yet St. Paul teaches that, with every temptation, God has made a way to escape from committing the sinful deed (1 Cor 10:13). Therefore, the question for the true Calvinist is:

    "Which way did God, in fact, provide for you to escape the temptations to do the sins you committed last week, if indeed you are so inclined? That is, if you have been predestined before the foundation of the world to do it?"

    This is a clear hole in the Calvinist position, forcing one to conclude that Calvinism cannot be reconciled with St. Paul.

    Clearly, if Calvin is right and one is predestined to commit a particular sin before the foundation of the world, God could not have truly provided a way out of that sin for you to take.

    How could He if you were predestined not to take it? So, either Calvin is wrong or we are dealing with a God Who feigns offers of deliverance from temptation.

    So, which is it? Is God a fraud or is Calvin?

    Many thanks to Mark Bobocore.