Friday, June 10, 2005

Some Ends Are Odd

Paul Owen has again responded (“Some Odds and Ends”), although it’s looking more and more as though his unnamed “critic” must be someone other than me. I thought initially he was responding to my posts here; but the farther we delve into this the less he addresses my specific points, ignores general points I’ve made, and repeats arguments I’ve already addressed as though I haven’t addressed them.

He keeps saying his “critic” has not addressed passages such as Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Cor 6:11, Rom 6:7, Col 2:12, the Reformers’ beliefs, the distinction between justification and salvation, and the like. This leads me to believe he’s actually engaged in a conversation with someone else. I’m therefore conflicted on whether or not I should waste time responding again.

You see, he has completely ignored my points on (1) the baptism/circumcision parallel according to which both are “passive acts,” and that if Paul excludes one then he has no basis for not excluding the other; (2) the distinction between regeneration (the new birth) and justification (a forensic declaration by God); (3) the fact that many salvific things can occur simultaneously in time and still have a logical priority and order; (4) the distinction (therefore) between baptismal regeneration and baptismal justification; (5) the consequent distinction between the entire bevy of quotes from Calvin (and perhaps Luther as well) supporting the former but not supporting the latter); (6) the ramifications of the “deck stacking” Owen engaged in when he wanted to show how many branches of Christendom are opposed to the Baptist view on this, but of course did not want this to apply to his own beliefs, such as (a) the “spiritual presence” of Christ at the Lord’s Table, (b) the absence of a “priesthood” in his denomination, (c) his views on predestination, (d) his “New Perspectivism,” which is completely contradicted by his professed mentors Luther and Calvin, not to mention everyone else, (e) his inclusion of Mormons as Christians, (f) his continued rote reliance on the beliefs of the Reformers rather than the principle on which they operated, (g) his failure to explain just how he subscribes to “justification by faith alone,” but then proceeds to suggest that we are also “justified by baptism,” completely nullifying the “faith alone” part, (h) his failure to grapple fairly with Paul’s extended arguments in Romans and Galatians on how a man is justified, in which discussion baptism plays absolutely no part even if it appears in latter contexts as a sign of dying with Christ and being clothed with Christ--that is to say, Paul takes pains to convince us that justification is by faith apart from works, but never makes that point about baptism, and indeed assumes baptism is parallel to the circumcision he is specifically excluding. Nor indeed does anyone in the entire NT ever say baptism justifies. It is always "by faith."

For these reasons, I’ve concluded Owen must be engaged in a conversation with someone else, and that I’d be wasting my time to address his most recent points since they would likely go unanswered as well.