Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Answering Manata’s Objections

Paul Manata lists a dozen or so responses to common Credobaptist arguments. The first one is in response to the Credobaptist argument which I have made, namely, that the New Covenant consists of only those who are regenerate.

Manata’s objection:
1) The “they” who broke the Old Covenant is not universal in scope (Moses, Joshua, Caleb, etc.,). So, why take the “they” who are in the New Covenant to be so?

Manata’s rebuttal ignores the thrust of the objection. Manata focuses on the “they” when he should be focused on the “what.” Manata’s rebuttal misses the point entirely. Jeremiah 31:33 says “But THIS is the covenant which I will make with them.” The demonstrative pronoun zo’t creates a very clear connection with the kind of covenant God has in mind. Jeremiah spells it out. Demonstrative pronouns single out a person or thing referred to (Waltke). Jeremiah is referring to something that comes later when he says “But THIS is the covenant that I will make with them. If THIS happens to be absent, then what follows has not occurred. What is the THIS that Jeremiah is talking about? The answer could hardly be any clearer; “I will put my law within them and on their heart I will write it.” Jeremiah echoes this again in 32:40 which plainly states, “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.” There is no room for gyrating oneself out of the fact that the New Covenant is one that is unbreakable. And according to this language, no one in the New Covenant will turn away from the LORD because His law is written in their heart and in their mind and the fear of God has been placed in their heart by God Himself. Manata’s rebuttal of the Baptist objection in this case falls short.

Manata’s second objection:
2) Jeremiah frequently uses the phrase “from the least to the greatest” to refer to classes of people, rather than everyone individually (Jer. 6:13, 8:8-10, 42:1). If the baptist wants to say that it must mean every single person individually, then he must believe that infants can approach elders, talk, and ask for people to hear their prayers. This is what “all the people from the least to the greatest,” did in Jeremiah 42:1. And if infants can do that then why would baptists say that they couldn’t make a profession of faith!

Feinburg writes, “The least of them” is very broad in meaning and includes “the least” in intellectual ability, in influence or position, in moral capacity – all are included in the comprehensive scope of the phrase.” [EBC, 577] All the members in the New Covenant will have an intimate knowledge of God untaught by men, but taught by God Himself. Again we are reminded of 1 John 2 and in this case 1 Corinthians 1:30 “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” So the Baptist objection has not been satisfactorily answered by Manata. It is the nature of the New Covenant that Manata continues to ignore, assuming I suppose that it is the same as the Old Covenant, or at least nearly the same. In other words, Manata’s continuity is so extreme that it ignores the discontinuity.

Manata’s next objection also misses it’s target:
3) This view, as Robert Strimple says, is like “jumping the eschatological gun.” The only time all God’s people will know God, will be regenerate, and will be saved, is in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Gene isn’t a theonomist, but it seems like he’s trying to do to the covenant people of God what theonomists are trying to do to all the people of the earth! But in “this present age” the tares grow among the wheat and it is God who separates them. The baptist may reply that we should try to have the visible church match the invisible. But since the invisible consists of all the elect for all time, then it most certainly includes some children of believers. By not receiving them into the church they will never, at any time, and in no way, match the invisible church. They refuse membership to over half its members!

The wheat and the tares are not addressing the covenant community. This objection is indeed confusing. The wheat is the product of the good seed sown by the Son of Man. These are the members in the New Covenant. The tares were sown by the enemy. These are the sons of the evil one, sown by the devil. The field in which this all takes place is the world, not the church. Since there is no organism known as the visible church, the rest of Manta’s rebuttal is moot. Perhaps Manata wants the Kingdom of God to be understood as the Covenant community. But that would mean that everyone is in the New Covenant. I don’t think Manata wants to go there. The reader needs to be reminded that this is a parable and as such, it is teaching a general truth about the coming judgment when all men will stand before God as their judge rather than men. But even is Manata wanted to press this issue, I would point to Matt. 13:18 which contrasts the good seed, called the sons of the kingdom with the bad see, called the sons of the evil one. Again, I should also reference 1 Jn. 2:20, 27 which says that we have an anointing from the Holy One and we do not need anyone to teach us about the truth of Christ. Manata’s rebuttal misses its target once more.

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