Friday, May 11, 2007

The Restoration of All Things (even the family)

Leslie’s recent post about her disagreement with several statements found in Barry Danylak’s paper on singleness prompted a comment that is worth following up on. I find it interesting that those who have been most excited by Barry’s piece as a whole have been Baptists. Those who have expressed appreciation, but have cautioned against some of the language tend to be Presbyterians. Since I’m Presbyterian and I agree with the traditional understanding of the covenants from a Presbyterian perspective, I’ll try to outline why we are seeing things a bit differently here.

First, in Tex’s comments, he states the following:

First, to have a better covenant does not imply that it must have all the good parts of the first covenant.

I’m not sure that I agree with this statement. Tex seems (see his blog) to appreciate John Piper’s ministry—which I thoroughly enjoy myself, having listened to well over 200 of Piper’s sermons and probably only disagreeing with him less than a dozen times in all those sermons; I can’t say enough about my appreciation for Piper: get all the sermons and books of his you can; you will not regret it. One thing Piper tells his students time and again is to define the terms used in debate or you will not communicate clearly. So, my first question would be, “What do you mean by ‘all the good parts’?”

This is a key question, because in a certain sense, I agree with Tex. When God superseded the Old Covenant with the New Covenant, we don’t necessarily see a one to one correlation between the two. The New Covenant, being better, and therefore necessarily different, is not the same as the Old Covenant. However, I don’t agree that just because the New Covenant is better that God, being righteous, can withhold or annul any of the “good parts” of the Old Covenant.

What I’ve tried to argue in the past, see my posts on baptism, is that the New Covenant is better because it actually brings to pass all the “good parts” of the Old Covenant. This is not to say that we now have a land here and now nor do I think it means that the New Covenant necessitates that the children of believers be believing. Even so, it seems clear to me that the blessings promised in the Old Covenant to believers concerning their children (which I include in the “good parts”) are granted to believers under the New Covenant in profound ways.

A Baptist, by theological necessity, can not agree with me on this. In fact, this is why Baptists seem to have nothing but praise for Barry’s paper and Presbyterians seem to have some serious reservations.

In the days to come, I’ll try to show more clearly how the role of the family is not superseded by the New Covenant, but rather is restored and reinvigorated by it. What I hope to do, though I will certainly fall far short of Barry’s tremendous work (Barry really has developed an excellent biblical theology of singleness), is create an outline for a biblical theology of the family. Just as Barry has shown that singleness has been redeemed by God in Christ Jesus, so I hope to show that the family has also been redeemed by God in Christ Jesus. And when I say redeemed, I mean redeemed in such a way that a Baptistic understanding of the family will be shown to be unbiblical. This is a tall task for a blog, so the outline should be judged for what it is, merely an outline. Hopefully others will take the time like Barry is doing for singleness and flesh it out.

1 comment:

tex said...

For the record.... I have trouble calling myself a Baptist. True, I am currently a member of a Baptist church, but that is not because of Baptist-distinctives as much as because the Word is preached! (by John Piper) After attending a Presbyterian church my entire childhood (including confirmation, ordination as an elder, and salvation) and now a Baptist church for 3 years, I admit I have no idea what the theological differences are between the two. (Maybe the fact that I was ordained as an elder at the age of 16, 2 years before being saved, should be a tip-off that my childhood church was not a good example of model Presbyterianism.)

Anyway, I just found this blog this week, and I look forward to reading more. Everything I've read so far is well thought out and Biblically accurate on the Bible's clear points. And I enjoy learning your perspective on the not-so-clear points.