Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Church Society: The Baptism of Infants

[The following is posted at the Church Society website.]

| Infant Baptism | Introduction

The Baptism of Infants

By the Revd G. W. Bromiley, M. A., D. Litt.

Vine Books Ltd (Publishers to Church Society) , 1955, 1976 & 1977


Chapter 6: The Sovereign Activity of the Spirit

Baptism in the name of the Holy Spirit declares to us the supreme fact that the fulfilment of the divine purpose in Jesus Christ is appropriated to us individually in the power of the Holy Spirit. It need hardly be pointed out that baptism has always been closely linked with the Spirit. The specific mark of Christ’s baptism as opposed to that of John is that it is baptism not only with water but with fire and the Holy Ghost (Matt. 3:11). The regeneration signified in water-baptism is stated expressly to be the work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:5-48). When the Holy Ghost was poured out on Cornelius and his company, Peter recognized at once that they could not be forbidden baptism (Acts 10:45-48). The more detailed expositions of Romans 6:1 f. and especially Romans 8:1 f. make it plain that the whole baptismal work of inward mortification and renewal is from first to last the operation of the Spirit.

We must notice again, however, that the connecting link is Jesus Christ Himself. The Holy Spirit does not work independently of Christ, just as Christ does not work independently of the Father (or the Spirit). The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). He is sent by Christ (John 16:7). He bears witness to Christ (John 16:14). Conversely, it was by the Spirit that Christ Himself was conceived in His human life (Luke 1, 35). The Spirit came upon Christ at His baptism in Jordan: the first association of the Spirit with water-baptism (Matt. 3:16). Above all, it was in the power of the Spirit that Christ carried through the covenant purpose of God in His death and resurrection, for ‘through the eternal Spirit he offered himself without spot to God’ (Hebrews 9:14), and He was raised again in the power of the same Spirit (Romans 1:4; I Peter 3:18). In its declaration of the work of the Spirit baptism speaks to us first of all of that work in its relation to Jesus Christ Himself, and especially to His death and resurrection.

But the work of the Holy Spirit does not end there, for the risen and ascended Christ received of the Father the gift of the Holy Ghost and shed forth the gifts of the Spirit on men. The ultimate purpose of this giving of the Spirit can be described in many ways, just as spiritual gifts may take many different forms for different detailed ends. But at bottom it all comes back to what Paul described as a being made conformable to Christ (Romans 12:2; Philippians 3:10-11), a participation in His death and resurrection. It is in fact the office of the Holy Spirit, by the word of the Gospel, to bring about in us the dying to sin and the rising again to righteousness which is our individual entry into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now this is what baptism signifies on its secondary but very necessary personal or subjective side. We cannot divorce it from the substitutionary death and resurrection of Christ or it has no meaning. We must not give to it the primary emphasis, for it is only because Christ has already died and risen again in the Spirit that we can be buried with Him and walk in newness of life. But all the same, as Christ died and rose again for us, by the same Spirit we ourselves must and can die and rise again with Him. This personal dying and rising again with Christ is brought out in baptism by the fact that it is the individual ‘I’ who is brought under the water of baptism and brought out again from the water to newness of life. Baptism is not just any baptism but my baptism. It is the individual entry into the dying and rising again of Christ of whom each one can say with Paul that He ‘loved me, and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).

This dying and rising again with Christ finds its first concrete and conscious expression in conversion, in the movement of repentance and faith which is the turning away from the old life of sin and the turning to the new life of righteousness. It is here that we come up against the real objection to infant baptism. For even if baptism is not primarily a confession of faith, even if its first testimony is to the purpose of the Father and the substitution of the Son, is it not still true that it witnesses to the inward operation of the Spirit which involves a personal identification? And does that not mean that although God may will the salvation of infants and declare their covenant status, although Christ died and rose again to accomplish that salvation, there is still no point in administering what is also a sacrament of personal identification until there is at least some evidence or expression of individual repentance and faith?

The conclusion is a plausible one for two reasons. First, there is no doubt that where the Gospel is preached to pagans, a definite conversion, or a profession of conversion, must precede baptism. But we have to remember that in these cases there will not otherwise be any desire for baptism. Second, it cannot be disputed that where baptism is administered prior to individual repentance and faith, it does often give rise to formalism and a false security which may easily destroy genuine Christianity. This is especially the case in sacramentalist systems where the opus operatum is supposed to be the individual regeneration of the recipient rather than the substitutionary death and resurrection of Christ. But even on a genuinely evangelical view the necessity of personal identification with Christ may sometimes be obscured. For that reason we must always be grateful to the baptist witness with its tremendous emphasis upon the aspect of personal decision. Indeed, it was perhaps a pity that the historical churches did not find a place for that witness within the common life of the community.

Yet that is not the end of the story, for even in the personal application we are not dealing primarily with the individual confession or consciousness of faith but with the regenerative activity of the Holy Spirit. The instructive example of Cornelius is a warning to us in this connection. For in the case of Cornelius the Holy Spirit descended in visible power, yet there is no mention of the orthodox process of repentance and faith followed perhaps by a special consecration for spiritual infilling (Acts 10:44 f). The point is this, not that repentance and faith are sometimes unnecessary, but that we cannot either control or altogether understand the underlying operation of which repentance and faith are the effect and expression. ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit’ (John 3:8). It is this regenerative work of the Spirit which is the thing signified in baptism.

The bearing of this is fourfold. In the first place, a consciousness and confession of faith are not always the same thing as the regenerative work of the Spirit. The point need not be laboured, for we have already touched on it, and it is clear enough in itself. But it is sufficiently important to deserve a fuller mention. The Bible itself warns us, and Christian history bears it out, that there is such a thing as a purely human faith which can be induced by purely human methods: propaganda, eloquence, personalities, and the like. People can have a vivid consciousness of this type of faith and be moved to make a Christian profession. Like the tare of the parable, such a faith may often be indistinguishable from the good seed of a true faith. But it is not regeneration, as the final harvest will prove. And in spite of his consciousness and confession, the one who has it does not have the thing signified in baptism, which is the inward work of the Holy Ghost. 

Second, and on the same lines, we must be careful not to think of the faith humanistically, as though it were a natural work of the human mind and will and emotions. If we analyze faith, we shall find that it is this. But the real secret of faith has still eluded us. We penetrate this secret when we turn to the Bible and find that genuine faith in Jesus Christ is the gift and work of God (Cf. Matt. 16:17; I Corinthians 12:3). Neither grace, salvation, nor faith is of ourselves: it is all the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). But the gift and work of God by the Holy Ghost are supernatural. They express themselves in terms of the human mind and will and emotions, but at the back of these things there is the incalculable factor which is the Holy Spirit. It is not to the human aspect, the consciousness and confession of faith, that witness is made in baptism, but to the sovereign operation of the Spirit.

This leads us to the third and vital point, that we have no right simply to say that our consciousness and confession of faith is the beginning of the genuine inward work of the Spirit. It may be true enough that in adults the initial work of dying and rising again with Christ takes place only when there is a conscious identification with Christ in repentance and faith. But even then the Holy Spirit has often begun His regenerative work long before. In the momentary thrill of conversion we are often impatient at much of the preceding instruction which we failed to understand, and we are therefore blind to the earlier ‘pricks’ of the Spirit. But as we grow older and wiser we see that after all the Holy Spirit was working in us long before we ourselves were aware of it. During the whole time that we were in touch with the word of God we were under the regenerative witness of the Spirit. During the whole time that prayer was offered for us we were being formed and fashioned by the Spirit. To borrow an image from the incarnation itself, there was a conception and growth in the Spirit before our actual birth of the Spirit. In many cases this conception dates right back to our infant baptism when the prayer of the minister and sponsors and congregation is made for this work of the Spirit within us. In this sense regeneration begins even though the new birth itself is not until ten, fifteen, twenty, perhaps even seventy years later.

So long as an infant stands within the covenant, under prayer and the word, it is, therefore supremely fitting that baptism should be administered from the very first, for baptism is the sacrament of the regenerative work of the Spirit, not of my consciousness and confession of faith. It is the sacrament of my faith only in so far as this is a first effect and expression of the underlying operation of the Spirit.

There is also the final point that since faith is the supernatural work of the Spirit it can be present even when there is no normal consciousness of it. One of the favourite arguments of sixteenth century anabaptists was that infants cannot have faith because they have no conscious life and faith demands self-awareness. Luther had an answer to this argument even on its own rationalistic level, that if there cannot be faith without self-awareness we are none of us believers when we are asleep. But there are two more scriptural answers. In the first place faith is not the work of flesh and blood but of the sovereign Spirit, who does not find it an impossible task to reveal the things of God to babes. Indeed, as Luther also pointed out, it is no more a miracle for the Spirit to work in the unresisting hearts of infants than it is for Him to work in the self-opinionated and sin-hardened hearts of adults. For adults, too, are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Only the rationalistic mind of unbelief can say that it is impossible for the Spirit not only to begin His work in infants but if He wills to lead them to a faith of which they will not have the awareness until later. The sovereign Spirit laughs at this kind of impossibility, just as He laughs at the impossibility of the virgin birth or the resurrection of the dead. Regeneration and faith are always a miracle of sovereign grace and power, so that if we are thinking in rationalistic terms we shall always be forced to cry out with Mary or Nicodemus: ‘How can these things be?’ (Luke 1:34; John 3:4-9) The answer is still the same. They are impossible to man, but with ‘God nothing shall be impossible’ (Luke 1:37).

But second, this is not merely an impossibility which God can do. It is an impossibility which He does do, as we see from irrefutable scriptural examples. In the Old Testament, for instance, God Himself says concerning Jeremiah: ‘Before thou camest forth from the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations’ (Jeremiah 1:5). The case of John the Baptist in the New Testament is if anything even more explicit: 

‘He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). Even Paul, who had had so vivid a conversion experience, was conscious that he had in effect been separated from his mother’s womb, (Galatians 1:5) so that if he had been the child of Christian parents there would have been no real incongruity in his infant baptism. What is established by these examples is that the Spirit both can and does work in unconscious infants. No doubt they were special instances, and the work was a special work. But all the work of the Spirit is a special and miraculous work, so that in the so-called normal instances a regenerative work in infants is not precluded. If there is the prayer of faith, there is no reason not to expect Him to do or to begin that work, according to His sovereign disposing. Certainly the sign of that work cannot be withheld on the ground of the alleged impossibility of the thing signified.

The discussion of these points has taken us rather far from the main theme of our being made conformable to Christ. But if it has established the sovereignty of the Spirit in relation to the beginning of that work it has served a useful purpose. For it has shown us that where there is a Christian background it is unnecessary and foolish to try to insist on a link in time between conscious conversion on the one hand and the activity of the Spirit and therefore the sign of that activity on the other. We must now return to our main theme, and in so doing we shall see that baptism as a sign of the sovereign work of the Spirit has a significance which goes far beyond the initial movement of repentance and faith with which it is often almost exclusively associated.

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer


Phil Derksen said...

RE: "The specific mark of Christ’s baptism as opposed to that of John is that it is baptism not only with water but with fire and the Holy Ghost."

I realize this is a bit tangential to the main theme of your post, but I think a preponderance of the evidence suggests that the baptism of "fire" and the baptism of "the Holy Spirit" are two separate things. Let me explain:

First, immediately following John's remarks in Matthew 3:11, he further explains his message in verse 12, and in the process he seems to further define the two terms in question (so too in Luke 3:16-17).

"His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

This strongly suggests that the two baptisms have different, and indeed contrastive purposes. That of the Holy Spirit is for the sealing of the elect, that of fire is a judgment on the unrepentant.

Several other points also support this understanding. First, the topic of eternal judgment is foundational to John’s narrative, as he prefaced his remarks by speaking of “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7 Luke 3:8). Additionally, not only is fire used in the definite sense of punishment immediately after John talked about being baptized in that element (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17), but also immediately before (Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9). It is also noteworthy that in both cases where the Gospel writers specifically indicated that a mixed audience was the subject of John’s message (Matthew 3:7–10; Luke 3:7–15), both the Spirit and fire are mentioned. But when some parallel narratives focus on those who were in fact submitting to John’s baptism of repentance (Mark 1:5–7), or is addressed directly to believers (Acts 1:5; 11:16), only the baptism in the Holy Spirit is mentioned. This is especially significant in the case of Acts 1, where it seems that if Luke had intended to make a connection between the tongues of fire at Pentecost, then he would have referenced both baptisms as he indeed had in his Gospel.

Finally, there is a striking similarity between the latter part of John’s message in the New Testament, and these words from the prophet Isaiah (30:27-28):

"Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire; his breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches up to the neck; to sift the nations with a sieve of destruction, and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray."

In commenting on this passage Dr. James Dunn writes:

"Almost certainly we have here the imagery on which the Baptist was drawing, and by combining it with the metaphor drawn from his own distinctive rite he was able to coin one of the most powerful images in all the Bible—the Coming One’s ministry characterized as a sifting/purgative/destructive experience as though one had been plunged into a river of the Lord’s ruach [Spirit]." (Baptism and the Unity of the Church, p.87f)

Charlie J. Ray said...

First of all, the text itself contrasts two kinds of fire, neither of which entails your view that there are "two baptisms with fire." Matthew 3:11 is speaking of the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit and Matthew 3:12 is speaking of the fires of hell in judgment. That's simple enough from the plain text.

Acts 2:3 clearly is a fulfillment of John the Baptist's prophecy in Matthew 3:11, etc.

Jn. 1:26
Acts 1:5
Acts 13:24
Acts 19:4
Jn. 1:15,27
Jn. 3:30f
Acts 13:25
Jn. 1:33
Acts 11:16
Isa. 4:4
Mal. 3:2f
Acts 2:3

I might also mention that James Dunn is questionable since he promotes the New Perspectives on Paul and other heresies.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I would appreciate it if in the future you provide a website or bio of yourself and your theology.


Phil Derksen said...


First, while you obviously don't remember it, we've had a brief (and agreeable)interaction before in the combox over at Johannes Weslianus, which I help Wes to maintain. I guess you'd say that I'm a PCA "confessionalist."

Second, you seem just a little bit grumpy today...

Third, I didn't say that I thought there were "two baptisms with fire." I said that John was referencing two distinct baptisms, one with fire, the other with the Holy Spirit.

While you apparently disagree with me on this point, I still don't think it is conclusive that the fiery tongues at Pentecost are necessarily a fulfillment of John's reference to a baptism of fire. Like I mentioned before, I think it is significant that in setting the stage for his upcoming narrative on Pentecost, Luke only mentions John's reference to a baptism with the Holy Spirit, while omitting the baptism of fire that he includes in his citation of John's message in his Gospel.

Yeah, I disagree with Dunn on a lot of things like the NPP, but I think he has some good insights on some issues. (I would never be in favor of having him teach or speak at my church, however...) Besides, many other theologians have agreed with him on this particular issue, including Origen and several other ECF's, and H. Meyers (who, by the way, Charles Hodge deemed "perhaps the ablest commentator on the New Testament of modern times."

Phil Derksen said...

Sorry, that that should have been "H. Meyer" (no "s" on the end).

Charlie J. Ray said...

Phil, it seems to me that your interpretation is a bit strained. I agree that there is a fire of judgment. But I do not agree with you about Matthew 3:11 since the plain meaning of the text fits well with the day of Pentecost.

I say this not because I'm a former Pentecostal but because it seems to me that the day of Pentecost was a baptism with fire and not of judgment.

Fire represents purification and sanctification. I do not advocate the Pentecostal two steps of grace: 1) Salvation 2) Entire sanctification/baptism with the Holy Spirit.

But I do advocate the Reformed distinction between justification and sanctification. It seems to me that the day of Pentecost is not a normative experience but a one time event that signed the birth of the New Testament church.

That being said, all Christians are sanctified by the fire of the Holy Spirit both positionally and progressively. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Philippians 3:7-14) The fact that John does not mention fire in connection with the baptism with the Spirit is not relevant to Matthew since Matthew speaks for himself. Also, the omission of fire in Luke does not negate the fact that Luke does mention it in Acts 2:3.

Simply because we do not want to endorse any Pentecostal theology is no reason to read into the text what is not there. Clearly Matthew is not referring to judgment in verse 11. The reprobate are never baptized with the Spirit. Luke 3:16 seems to agree with Matthew 3:11 so Luke does tie the baptism with the Holy Spirit with the purification symbol of fire.

Also, the context of verse 11 shows that the verse is speaking to believers who are baptized with water and with the Holy Spirit and fire.

βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί·

Both the Holy Spirit and fire are in the dative case and are joined with the coordinating copulative conjunction. It would be odd to have the two terms referring to opposite theological concepts rather than a single and united concept. In fact, both terms are also neuter in gender.

The Bible Expositor's Commentary seems to agree:

But Matthew and Luke add “and fire.” Many see this as a double baptism, one in the Holy Spirit for the righteous and one in fire for the unrepentant (cf: the wheat and chaff in Mt 3:12). Fire (Mal 4:1) destroys and consumes.
There are good reasons, however, for taking “fire” as a purifying agent along with the Holy Spirit. The people John is addressing are being baptized by him; presumably they have repented. More important the preposition en (“with”) is not repeated before fire: the one preposition governs both “Holy Spirit” and “fire,” and this normally suggests a unified concept, Spirit-fire or the like (cf: M.J. Harris, DNTT, 3:1178; Dunn, Baptism, pp. 10–13). Fire often has a purifying, not destructive, connotation in the OT (e.g., Isa 1:25; Zech 13:9; Mal 3:2–3). John’s water baptism relates to repentance; but the one whose way he is preparing will administer a Spirit-fire baptism that will purify and refine.

Carson, D. A. (1984). Matthew. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (105). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I might add that Calvin himself interpreted Matthew 3:11 the same way:

Matthew 3:11. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It is asked, why did not John equally say, that it is Christ alone who washes souls with his blood? The reason is, that this very washing is performed by the power of the Spirit, and John reckoned it enough to express the whole effect of baptism by the single word Spirit. The meaning is clear, that Christ alone bestows all the grace which is figuratively represented by outward baptism, because it is he who “sprinkles the conscience” with his blood. It is he also who mortifies the old man, and bestows the Spirit of regeneration. The word fire is added as an epithet, and is applied to the Spirit, because he takes away our pollutions, as fire purifies gold. In the same manner, he is metaphorically called water in another passage, (John 3:5.)

Calvin's Commentaries, Harmony of the Gospels.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I remember vaguely talking to you there, Phil. I don't post much at your blog but I do follow the Federal Vision issue there.

Thanks for stopping by.

Charlie J. Ray said...

ἀπεκρίνατο λέγων πᾶσιν ὁ Ἰωάννης, Ἐγὼ μὲν ὕδατι βαπτίζω ὑμᾶς· ἔρχεται δὲ ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ· αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί· (Luke 3:16 GNT)

Luke 3:16 uses the exact same grammatical construction as Matthew 3:11.

βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί· (Luk 3:16 GNT)

Phil Derksen said...


Not that I think this issue is some sort of great theological divide or anything, but I'll offer a few concluding remarks.

You said. "The fact that John does not mention fire in connection with the baptism with the Spirit is not relevant to Matthew since Matthew speaks for himself." But that misses my stated point completely. I noted that LUKE, like Matthew, mentions John's statement in full when it is being given in the context of a mixed audience (i.e. some who will heed his call to repentance, as well as some who will not). However, when THE SAME WRITER, LUKE, later talks about the specific events at Pentecost, he conspicuously omits the reference to "baptism with fire."

You said: "Fire represents purification and sanctification." This statement is true enough, insofar as it goes (e.g. Psalm 6:10–12; Isaiah 1:25–26; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2–3; 1 Corinthians 3:12–15). However, the imagery of fire is by far most often used in Scripture to denote God’s just punishment of unrepentant evildoers (e.g. Job 20:26; Psalm 78:21, 97:3, 106:18, 140:10; Proverbs 30:11; Isaiah 5:24, 10:16–17, 26:11, 30:30, 30:33, 33:11, 33:14, 66:15–16; Jeremiah 4:4, 21:12, 50:32, Lamentations 2:4; Ezekiel 31–32, 38:22; Daniel 7:11; Hosea 8:14; Amos 1:4–14, 7:4; Matthew 5:22, 7:19, 13:30, 40, 18:8–9, 25:41; Mark 9:48; Luke 9:54, 12:49, 17:29; John 15:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 6:8, 10:27; 2 Peter 3:7; Jude 7; Revelation 8:7, 11:5, 14:10, 18:8, 20:9–10, 21:8).

Nor is the fact that John is essentially paraphrasing Isaiah's reference to judgement fire in the very statement in question insignificant.

Of course in terms of a judgmental "baptism in fire," the imagery of sinners being cast into the lake of fire used in Revelation 20 and 21 should immediately come to mind. Moreover, just as John's integrated remarks show, Christ is indeed the administrator of both types of baptism - that of the Spirit, whom He sent, upon believers, as well as that of the fire of judgement upon sinners, who are sentenced before the judgment throne of Christ

Thus, I must strongly disagree with your assessment that "my" interpretation is strained. It is perfectly consistent with biblical teaching and, I believe, even best accounts for all that Scripture teaches on these things.

Anyway, like I said before, though we may likely have to agree to disagree on this subject, I don't see it a being a major issue that has to be agreed upon in every detail by all believers.



Charlie J. Ray said...

Phil, I don't know where you studied hermeneutics but the first principle is that immediate context counts as the primary evidence. The Greek evidence is that this is a unified concept since the entire phrase is in the dative case and both the Holy Spirit and fire are in the dative case and neuter gender, indicating that these are "parallel" concepts.

Citing John to interpret Matthew would only apply if Matthew were somehow ambiguous, which he isn't. Moreover, Luke agrees with Matthew.

Scripture does indeed interpret Scripture but only if the primary verses are difficult or do not make sense. Reading other texts back into Matthew 3:11 to justify a presupposed position that does not fit the plain meaning of the text is unjustified.

And I did cite John Calvin's agreement with that interpretation. Of course Calvin is fallible--but then, so are you.

Besides, Dunn seems to agree with Calvin's view here as the Expositor's Commentary shows.

Geoffrey Bromiley, as far as I know, had no connection with the Charismatic movement or Pentecostalism. He was a Reformed Anglican who was a brilliant translator and a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Luke does not omit the baptism with fire: Luke 3:16; Acts 2:3. It's a bit ridiculous to overlook something so obvious. As I said, your interpretation is strained. Simply because John omits it does not mean that Luke and Matthew are not further particularizing what John leaves out.

John's version of the baptism of the apostles with the Spirit is different from Luke's version in Acts 2. But that might mean that John is speaking about a completely different event.


Phil Derksen said...


Your absolutely right, I'm pretty much just a nobody, with absolutely no formal training in hermeneutics.
However, as I said before, other capable theologians have held the same view, including Heinrich Meyer, who delves deeply into the Greek of virtually every passage that he expounds on. In this case he in fact notes Calvin's position, and then shows why, including from the Greek, he strongly disagrees with it.

(See: H. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Gospel of Matthew, [New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884], p.80f)

So again, I'm not in bad company here.


Phil Derksen said...


You, my good fellow, seem to be overlooking the fact that in setting the stage for his narrative on Pentecost, Luke, quoting Jesus, very conspicuously omits the fire component in John's statement that he had previously quoted in his Gospel, while specifically citing the rest (Acts 1:5).

You also seem to be hung up on the idea that such an interpretation must somehow be tainted by a emotional desire to refute certain modern Pentecostal notions. I guess you'll have to tell that to Meyer.

Anyway. I'm done with this. I gotta say, however, I'm beginning to see why others have said certain things about your style of "interacting" with people on your blog...



Charlie J. Ray said...

Phil, it really has nothing to do with authority. Appealing to authority is a fallacy. The strength of the immediate context of both Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16 is so simple even a plow boy can understand it.

I'm always suspicious of professional theologians who come up with off the wall interpretations that beg the question.

Stupid me:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Phil, and that same criticism has not been leveled at your blog?

Ad hominem is another logical fallacy.

The fact of the matter, in case you have forgotten, is that the priesthood of believers overrides professional clericalism. I might mention as well that a confession of faith overrides the individualism of systematic theology and personal interpretation of texts. See R. Scott Clark's article:

Bound to the Past and to a Living Confession

Besides, Phil, this is my blog. You are a guest here. I have full authority here and you have none. So I can absolutely disagree with you without needing any justification whatsoever.

That's the beauty of the internet. There are no longer any ivory towers for theologians to hide in.

In the future, you should pick something more ambiguous to argue over. This one is a slam dunk for the plain meaning of the text, particularly if you read Greek.


Charlie J. Ray said...

Phil, I might add that quoting Dunn's commentary on verse 12 does not support your interpretation of verse 11. I strongly suspect, given the commentary I cited, that Dunn's commentary on verse 11 would support the plain meaning of the text, vis a vis "baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire" is one concept and the chaff burned with fire in verse 12 is the contrasting concept.

As for me being "grumpy" that wouldn't be an issue if you had properly identified yourself via either a google account or OpenID rather than simply posting a name with no links.


Charlie J. Ray said...

I have to agree with R. Scott Clark on this. If you're going to post here, you'll need to provide some information about yourself. Who you are and where you live and what your theological views are.

I'm out here in the wide open and hide nothing. My name and my educational background are out there for everyone to see.


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