(Churchman) J.I. Packer–Baptism: A Sacrament of the Covenant of Grace

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptism, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Sacramental Theology, Theology

One comment on “(Churchman) J.I. Packer–Baptism: A Sacrament of the Covenant of Grace

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Note the date. Packer wrote this article way back in 1955. Nonetheless, the issues at stake are perennial and important.

    Alas, I think the great J. I Packer is badly wrong. The Reformed notion of a single covenant of grace stretching from cover to cover badly distorts the biblical witness. It overly harmonizes the OT and the NT, and not least when it comes to the status of children under the new and old covenants. There are legitimate ways of defending the appropriateness of infant baptism, but the supposed parallel with infant circumcision is NOT one of them. That whole approach is manifestly ANTI-biblical, in fact. It is clean contrary to the teaching of the Gospel of John. Not least John 1:11-13.

    Packer and I view the 17th century Caroline divines and Puritans in almost exactly opposite ways. The writers he commends most, I criticize heavily, and vice versa. But that is all because of our overall theological frameworks. He is proudly Reformed and highly sympathetic to the Puritans. I am emphatically EX-Reformed, and even at times ANTI-Reformed, and vehemently anti=Puritan.

    Yet we are both in the ACNA. And of course, the noble and venerable James Packer has far more clout than this otherwise unknown blogger of no particular significance. But in the end, it’s the ideas that count. The Reformed dream of a single covenant of grace underlying the whole Bible has some merit, but it is easily misunderstood. And when Reformed theologians, from Zwingli, Calvin, Bucer and Bullinger, down to B. B. Warfield, R. C. Sproul, or J. I. Packer try to make that notion the basis for defending the hoary custom of infant baptism, they fall into a very serious error. And that major theological error has led to nothing less than a pastoral catastrophe on a massive scale.

    David Handy+