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April 26, 2006


Mike Spreng

It seems they are getting a bit clearer with things. I do think they need to go into a more ecclesiological explanation of baptism being the epistemological juxtaposition of salvation (hey, that sounded pretty cool!). But really, to place all confidence in baptism would essentially mean that we are placing much confidence in the clergy. After all, it is the clergy that allows and performs the ceremony and it is the clergy that “maintains the effectualness.”

I’m a bit nervous about putting all my trust in the ceremony. Hebrews 12 is in fact a chapter of epistemology that gives us leverage for arguing in favor of “knowing” that we are “His” through His discipline. It says that if we are not disciplined by Him, then we are bastards (KJV). This discipline, paralleled to the rest of Scripture is both ecclesiastic and “personal.” The church can certainly discipline us, but God can and does discipline without the help of the church, also.

Do you get what I’m saying?

By the way, my name is Mike Spreng...appreciate your blog.


Hey Mike, yeah, I've been trying to listen all along without freaking out (this has gotten me labeled as an FVer). As far as epistemological juxpositions to salvation I think the Scripture does that. Besides narrative portions, all texts on baptism relate to the salvation motif.

I don't think they're saying all the confidence is on the clergy. That is fragmenting the whole ball of wax called the church. Instead it would go something like this: The church is God's special object of attention via covenantal promise and relationship. Thus, God works through this entity (no ordinary salvation outside the church) where his means of grace are communicated. I think its a little strange that we have no problem seeing the essential clerical element in preaching (the preacher) but then think it impossible and completely strange that God would work instrumentally through the sacrament.

As far as Hebrews 12 goes, this "knowing" via discipline should give us, as parents, confidence that God is in a relationship of promise with us and our children (Acts 2).

Mike Spreng

So if we go with the stepchild analogy – that there are some who are blessed but not really His, then, epistemologically speaking (to us, as we know things) the final cut is by obedience – Christ’s of course. So it almost makes parts of the reformation seem to be vain. Were we trying to mix epistemology in our theology far too much?? Maybe the Catholics are so wrong that they are right. In other words, since we apparently can’t “know” then our works appear to become the primary motif. I’m thinking out loud a bit…I hope no one tries to hang me…


Hey Garrett,

When you say 'salvation motif' what do you mean? Do you mean that salvation or deliverance is associated with all baptisms in the NT? What about Jesus' baptism or John's prophetic repentance baptism?

I sometimes wonder if more is going on at baptism than mere circumcision replacement but if there is not an element of ceremonial cleasing as found in Leviticus. Maybe being 'reborn spiritually' either welcomed into or rewelcoming into the cov. community as a leper is. Either case, the FV stuff is relevant because there is an efficacy in praxis in some way or another demonstrated.

The reason I go here, is because of Ethiopian church practice. Apparently they baptize males on the 40th day and females on the 80th day. Take at look at Lev. 12 and we see a parallel. Apparently they've been doing it this way since the beginning? Don't know, not much info on it. Over....


Mike, its always of Christ but strangely, Christ (Matt. 25) doesn't speak of believers coming through the final judgment by "just believing in Jesus" but by works of obedience. But of course, these were all enabled by the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:11-12). Hey, our theology can walk and chew gum! Its about a living faith.

I think the Reformers were right but we have narrowed their rich and broad focus down to a few slogans and courtroom analogies.



I think baptism (which includes circumcision) in the OT is baptism in the NT. For example, 1 Cor. 10:1 tells us the Red Sea crossing was a paradigmatic baptism. So must have been the Jordan crossing of Joshua. 1 Peter introduces the idea of the Ark as baptismal (Luther saw this clearly with his "Great Flood prayer). And so, baptism is complex and nuanced.

Now, in regards to the NT, outside of the narratives, baptism always relates directly to salvation. Very uncomfortable to our baptistically influenced ears!

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