Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Consideration In Favor of the Paedo-baptist View

The best formulation of the credo-baptist position to which I have been exposed seems to be the formulation under which physical generation's having significance for covenantal succession is seen to be equivalent to Israelite ethnic identity's having significance for covenantal succession, and as the latter sees fulfillment in Christ so does the former. Yet, while Israelite ethnic identity certainly ceases to bear decisive significance for covenantal succession as Jesus completes His work as the faithful Israelite and ascends to heaven, and pours out His Spirit and opens the covenant of grace to all peoples at Pentecost, I would ask my Baptist brothers and sisters why (biblically speaking) physical generation should not continue to bear significance across the distinct covenant epochs.

There is no explicit NT statement asserting that physical generation's significance for covenantal succession ends with Jesus' advent. And nowhere is it explicitly indicated that physical generation's significance for covenantal succession only concerns matters of Israelite ethnic identity. Therefore, this equivalence of significance has to be inferred or assumed.

I find this inference or assumption to be mistaken. The covenant promise elaborated to Abraham in Genesis 22 includes the proviso that through Abraham all the peoples of the earth will be blessed. This has the force of a qualitative (as opposed to quantitative) pronouncement certifying that all types of people will be blessed through the outworking of God's gracious covenant (not that every person on earth will partake of its blessing). OT Prophecy foretelling New Covenant times in which many distinct people groups will come to worship the one true God and NT statements concerning the proclamation of the Gospel to the many peoples or families or nations indicate that in the ancient world members of the human race were very much conceived of as diversified under national and ethnic identities and that the inclusion of all people's under the grace of the New Covenant meant the inclusion of people from the many distinct national and ethnic identities. Peoples of these diverse ethnicities and nationalities would have, like the Israelites, understood the succession of their various groups in terms of physical generation. When people of the Jews and the diverse Gentile people groups responded to the calling to be part of a heavenly race at the head of which was Christ the heavenly king, they would have naturally understood their own physical generation to also carry significance for the succession of their new transcendent ethnic identity. Thus the New Covenant entails the fulfillment of the significance of Israelite ethnic identity for covenant succession, and in fulfilling the significance of this specific ethnic identity, it could be seen to broaden the scope of the significance of physical generation for covenant succession to extend this significance to members of Gentile people groups now identified among Christ's transcendent heavenly ethnicity.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why I Believe In Analogy

It has been some time since I have put forth the effort to contribute a post for this blog. Former posts of mine on "Reason From Scripture" have been dedicated to challenging the Thomistic doctrine of Analogy (Clarifying Analogy) and formulating a paradigm of archetypal/ectypal knowledge without resorting to the Thomistic notion (The Concept of Archetypal Knowledge). In this post, with a mild degree of humility and embarassment, I would like to demonstrate that I have had a change of heart and share the reasons that I am now a proponent and defender of a specific formulation of Thomistic analogy. Perhaps you too will find them compelling.

I was persuaded that we must resort to analogy in referencing God through consideration of the way in which Kant arrives at the notion of noumena. Kant is led to posit the concept of "the noumenal" through his recognition that logical possiblity exceeds the range of phenomena which can possibly appear to the human subject in his/her humanly conditioned mode of consciousness and cognition. Kant claims, for example, that that the human mode of consciousness is temporally and spatially conditioned so that the range of phenomena that can possibly appear to the human subject will be all alike temporally and spatially conditioned. Yet, no contradiction is involved in the notion of a timeless and spaceless "something" therefore it must be acknowledged that possibly such a "something" could exist though it can never appear within the human consciousness/cognition. Thus the placeholder: noumena. On Kant's formulation of noumena, however, one would have to remain strictly agnostic as to whether such entities exist and as to what they would be like since we are by definition and of necessity precluded conscious cognitive access to them.

In the domain of orthodox Christian theology, a notion of the being of God is given which defies conceptualization under the human mode of cognition. A God is confessed who is in His essence, according to systemmetized revelation, timeless and spaceless, 3 and 1, simple and multi-faceted, etc. While no two of the revealed aspects of God's nature yeild contradiction, taken together they clearly show that human cognition of God "in Himself" is precluded based on the limitations of the human cognitive intellective mode. Still, we are given in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, authoritative, infalible revelation as to what God is "like." Various creaturely pure perfections are supplied after these ends. With the application of each creaturely concept to God, however, it is to be remembered that this manner of predication only indicates what God is "like" in that He is
(perfection x) to a degree greater than can be humanly concieved. Thus analogical ascription to God of any creaturely pure perfection "x" sanctioned in Scripture could take the following analytic form: God's nature is "x" like creature s exhibits x but to a degree greater than can be humanly concieved. For instance: God's nature is "wisdom" like Socrates exhibits wisdom but to a degree greater than can be humanly concieved. Thus, through revelation, we are given an analogical notion of what God is like although He defies comprehension under our cognitive mode.