Monday, November 23, 2009

Martin Luther: Strong Elements in His Thinking of Theosis and Transformational Sanctification Closely Allied with Justification

[ source ]

For background on theosis, see my paper, Theosis and God's Exalted Role for the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:

Now the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of a partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature. And thus it is impossible that any creature should cause grace. For it is as necessary that God alone should deify, bestowing a partaking of the Divine Nature by a participated likeness, as it is impossible that anything save fire should enkindle.

(Summa Theologica, First Part of the Second Part, Q. 112: The Cause of Grace, Art. 1: Whether God Alone is the Cause of Grace)

See also the related paper: Martin Luther on Sanctification and the Absolute Necessity of Good Works as the Proof of Authentic Faith.

The following information was obtained from the fascinating article, "Luther and Theosis," by Kurt E. Marquart, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne, Indiana), and was published in Concordia Theological Quarterly, Vol. 64:3, July 200, pp. 182-205.

Many back issues of that excellent scholarly magazine are available online on a great site that I happily ran across. All subsequent words below are from the article, with Luther's own words in blue. Footnotes appear in brackets immediately after the section that utilizes the sources therein.

* * * * *

The chief New Testament reference to theosis or deification is 2 Peter 1:4: . . . (AV : "partakers of the divine nature"; NEB: "come to share in the very being of God). Certainly John 17:23 is to the point: "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given to them, that they may be one, as We are one; I in them and Thou in Me, may they be perfectly one" (NEB, upper case added). This at once suggests the divine nuptial mystery (Ephesians 5:25-32; one may compare 2:19-22 and Colossians 1:26-27), with its implied "wondrous exchange." That the final "transfiguration" of believers into "conformity" . . . with Christ's glorious body (Philippians 3:21; one may compare 1 Corinthians 15:49) has begun already in the spiritual-sacramental life of faith, is clear from "icon" texts like Romans 8:29, Colossians 3:10, and especially 2 Corinthians 3:18: "thus we are transfigured into His likeness, from splendor to splendor" . . . One may also wish to compare 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Ephesians 3:14-19.

The most celebrated patristic statement on the subject is no doubt that of Athanasius: "For He was made man that we might be made God." To avoid any pantheistic misunderstandings, it is necessary to see that "deification" applies first of all to the flesh of the incarnate Son of God Himself. It is simply a traditional way of putting what Lutherans now call the second genus, or the genus maiestaticum, of the communication of attributes.

[ . . . ]

In a 1526 sermon Luther said: "God pours out Christ His dear Son over us and pours Himself into us and draws us into Himself, so that He becomes completely humanified (vermzenschet) and we become completely deified (gantz und gar vergottet, "Godded-through") and everything is altogether one thing, God, Christ, and you."'

[Martin Luther, D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe, 58 volumes (Weimar, 1883- ), 20:229,30 and following, cited in Werner Elert, The Structure of Lutheranism, volume 1 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1962),175-176. The present author has altered the translation given there in order to make it more literal. All subsequent references to the Weimar edition of Luther's works will be abbreviated WA.]

[ . . . ]

Sadly, this we] is now unknown in the whole world, and is neither preached nor pursued; indeed, we are even quite ignorant of our own name, why we are Christians and are so-called. Surely we are so-called not from Christ absent, but from Christ dwelling [inhabitante] in us, that is, inasmuch as we believe in Him and are mutually one another's Christ, doing for neighbors just as Christ does for us.

We conclude therefore that the Christian lives not in himself, but in Christ and in his neighbor, or he is no Christian; in Christ through faith, in the neighbor through love. Through faith he is rapt above himself into God, and by love he in turn flows beneath himself into the neighbor, remaining always in God and in His love.

[The Freedom of the Christian, Latin: WA 7:66,69; German: WA 7:35-36,38; English: Luther's Works, American Edition, 55 volumes, edited by J. Pelikan and H. T. Lehmann (Saint Louis: Concordia and Philadelphia: Fortress, 1955-1986), 31:368, 371. In "Theosis as a Subject," the end of the first paragraph has been rendered "mutually in one another, another and different Christ. . ." Subsequent references to the American edition of Luther's works will be abbreviated LW.]

In an early (1515) Christmas sermon, Luther notes:

As the Word became flesh, so it is certainly necessary that the flesh should also become Word. For just for this reason does the Word become flesh, in order that the flesh might become Word. In other words: God becomes man, in order that man should become God. Thus strength becomes weak in order that weakness might become strong. The Logos puts on our form and figure and image and likeness, in order that He might clothe us with His image, form, likeness. Thus wisdom becomes foolish, in order that foolishness might become wisdom, and so in all other things which are in God and us, in all of which He assumes ours in order to confer upon us
His [things].

We who are flesh are made Word not by being substantially changed into the Word, but by taking it on [assumimus] and uniting it to ourselves by faith, on account of which union we are said not only to have but even to be the Word."

[WA 1 2825-3239-41. Cited in "Grundlagenforschun," 192; "Zwei Arten," 163.]

[ . . . ]

The one who has faith is a completely divine man [plane est divinus homo], a son of God, the inheritor of the universe. . . . Therefore the Abraham who has faith fills heaven and earth; thus every Christian fills heaven and earth by his faith. . .

[WA 40 I:182,390; LW 26:1001 247,248.]

Obviously there are many implications here as well for love, good works, and other important topics . . .

[ . . . ]

. . . Luther . . . knows a God who is not gingerly beaming thoughts and effects at us from afar while taking care to keep His real being (if He has any!) well away from us. With Luther biblical realism is in full cry:

The fanatical spirits today speak about faith in Christ in the manner of the sophists. They imagine that faith is a quality that clings to the heart apart from Christ [excluso Christo]. This is a dangerous error. Christ should be set forth in such a way that apart from Him you see nothing at all and that you believe that nothing is nearer and closer to you than He. For He is not sitting idle in heaven but is completely present [praesentissimus] with us, active and living in us as chapter two says (2:20): "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me," and here: "You have put on Christ. . . ."

Hence the speculation of the sectarians is vain when they imagine that Christ is present in us "spiritually," that is, speculatively, but is present really in heaven. Christ and faith must be completely joined. We must simply take our place in heaven; and Christ must be, live, and work in us. But He lives and works in us, not speculatively but really, with presence and with power [realiter, praesentissime et eficacissim].

[WA 40 1:545-546; LW 26:356-357; "In ipsa," 39-40.]

By faith, finally,

you are so cemented [conglutineris] to Christ that He and you are as one person, which cannot be separated but remains attached [perpetuo adhaerescat] to Him forever and declares: "I am as Christ." And Christ, in turn, says: "I am as that sinner who is attached to Me, and I to him. For by faith we are joined together into one flesh and one bone." Thus Ephesians 5:30 says: "We are members of the body of Christ, of His flesh and of His bones," in such a way that this faith couples Christ and me more intimately than a husband is coupled to his wife.

[WA 40 1:285-286; LW 26:l68; "In ipsa," 51.]

[ . . . ]

And that we are so filled with "all the fulness of God," that is said in the Hebrew manner, meaning that we are filled in every way in which He fills, and become full of God, showered with all gifts and grace and filled with His Spirit, Who is to make us bold, and enlighten us with His light, and live His life in us, that His bliss make us blest, His love awaken love in us. In short, that everything that He is and can do, be fully in us and mightily work, that we be completely deified [vergottet], not that we have a particle or only some pieces of God, but all fulness. Much has been written about how man should be deified; there they made ladders, on which one should climb into heaven, and much of that sort of thing. Yet it is sheer piecemeal effort; but here [in faith] the right and closest way to get there is indicated, that you become full of God, that you lack in no thing, but have everything in one heap, that everything that you speak, think, walk, in sum, your whole life be completely divine [Gottisch].

[Sermon of 1525, WA 17 1:438; "In ipsa," 54.]

When one ponders the lively, full-blooded realism of Luther's theology, one can only wonder how such a legacy could have been so tragically squandered in world "Lutheranism" over the centuries. Chesterton complained about the Church of England's tendency to tolerate "underbelievers" but to persecute "overbelievers." Why this preference for ever less, for the minimal? Reductionist philosophy alone is hardly the whole story. Sin has a way of defending itself against God's saving incursions on a broad front.

[ . . . ]

If there is such a thing as a characteristic "structure of Lutheranism" which distinguishes it from other confessions, then it must lie surely in a relentless realism of faith that will not let any of God's life-bearing gifts be spirited away into significances and abstractions.

[ . . . ]

Very God of very God, a real incarnation, genuine, full, and free forgiveness, life, salvation and communion with the Holy Trinity, imparted in the divinely powerful gospel and sacraments - including the evangelic doctrine as revealed, heavenly truth, not academic guesswork, and the true body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar - all these mysteries to be cherished and handled for the common good by responsible householders in the God-given office, rightly dividing law and gospel (sola fide!): do not these constitute the "structure of Lutheranism"?

[ . . . ]

Luther insists just as rigidly, as does the Formula, on a radical differentiation between imputed and inchoate righteousness, only his terms for this are "passive" and "active" righteousness. Luther devotes a whole introductory section to this topic, under the title, "The Argument of St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians." The distinctively "Christian righteousness," by which alone we are justified and saved, "is heavenly and passive," that is, Christ's. All the various forms of earthly, active righteousness are excluded from this.

[ . . . ]

Luther's sublime comment on Psalm 5:2-3 provides a suitable conclusion:

By the reign of His humanity or (as the Apostle says) His flesh, which takes place in faith, He conforms us to Himself and crucibles us, making genuine men, that is wretches and sinners, out of unhappy and haughty gods. For because we rose in Adam towards the likeness of God, He came down into our likeness, in order to lead us back to a knowledge of ourselves. And this takes place in the mystery [sacramentum] of the Incarnation. This is the reign of faith, in which the Cross of Christ holds sway, throwing down a divinity perversely sought and calling back a humanity [with its] despised weakness of the flesh, which had been perversely abandoned. But by the reign of [His] divinity and glory He will conform [configurabit] us to the body of His glory, that we might be like Him, now neither sinners nor weak, neither led nor ruled, but ourselves kings and sons of God like the angels. Then will be said in fact "my God," which is now said in hope. For it is not unfitting that he says first "my King" and then "my God," just as Thomas the Apostle, in the last chapter of Saint John, says, "My Lord and my God." For Christ must be grasped first as Man and then as God, and the Cross of His humanity must be sought before the glory of His divinity. Once we have got Christ the Man, He will bring along Christ the God of His Own accord.

[0perationes in Psalmos (1519-1521), WA 5128-129. I am indebted for this reference to Walter Mostert, "Martin Luther- Wirkung und Deutung," in Luther im Widerstreit der Geschichte, Veroffentlichungen der Luther-Akademie Ratzeburg, Band 20 (Erlangen: Martin-Luther Verlag, 1993), 78.]


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Prayer for the Dead: Lutheran Pastor (LCMS) Defends it from Scripture, Citing the Pauline Example of Onesiphorus

This comes from Pastor William Weedon, who runs a very edifying, educational blog. It's entitled On Prayer for the Dead. He notes some mixed signals within Lutheranism:

The Synodical Catechism (1943) asks: “For whom should we pray?” (#210) and answers this: “We should pray for ourselves and all other people; but not for the souls of the dead.” In contrast to this, consider these words from Concordia: The Book of Concord:
Regarding the adversaries’ quoting the Fathers about the offering for the dead, we know that the ancients speak of prayer for the dead, which we do not ban. (Ap. XXI:94)
Epiphanius declares that Aerius maintained prayers for the dead are useless. He finds fault with this. We do not favor Aerius either. (Ap XXI:96).
The funeral service provided in Lutheran Service Book prays:
Give to Your whole Church in heaven and on earth Your light and Your peace…. Grant that all who have been nourished by the holy body and blood of Your Son may be raised to immortality and incorruption to be seated with Him at Your heavenly banquet.
So which position is Scriptural?

[additional indentation added presently for ease of reading; bolding and italics are his own]

The Book of Concord constitutes the actual Lutheran Confessions, and would trump the other source in terms of doctrinal authority, I'm pretty sure

Pastor Weedon utilizes as his argument the passages about Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:15-18; 4:19). I've made the same argument for at least 13 years now (it was included in my first book, which was completed in 1996: pp. 141-143). I also revisited the topic in The Catholic Verses (2004, pp. 169-174). Here's another related paper from my blog:
Pastor Weedon further clarifies his position in comments:

Yes, I take it that Onesiphorus has died. Franzmann writes in his Concordia Bible with Notes - NT:
"Onesiphorus is otherwise unknown; Paul's tribute to his energetic and fearless love remains his only but enduring monument. He was apparently dead at the time Paul wrote." (p. 418)
What makes it apparent, I believe (as also Franzmann concludes) is the way St. Paul speaks of his help in the past tense (not something he currently is rendering) and how at the end of the letter that he does not greet the man himself, but his household.

I've also documented Martin Luther's approval of the same practice. I cited the Lutheran Confessions, too (apparently a different rendering of Pr. Weedon's first source above):

Luther's approval of prayers for the dead given out of free devotion was shared in Melanchthon's apology to the Augsburg Confession (article XXIV, 94), where he wrote:
Now, as regards the adversaries' citing the Fathers concerning the offering for the dead, we know that the ancients speak of prayer for the dead, which we do not prohibit; but we disapprove of the application ex opere operato of the Lord's Supper on behalf of the dead.

Now, of course, I hasten to add that Lutherans -- like the Orthodox -- will not conclude from this (as we do) that purgatory is implied (indeed, so we contend, almost logically presupposed) in such prayers, but that is another issue. For now, I am simply noting the agreement that the practice itself is permissible according to confessional Lutheranism. I think it is good wherever Christians can agree with each other.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our 25th Anniversary Dream Getaway to the Fabulous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
Dave & Judy Armstrong: medieval wedding at a Protestant church: 6 October 1984

Our 25th wedding came around on October 6th. A few days later we were privileged to be able to stay at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (in the straits between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan). It's a very famous hotel, and often listed as one of the top 25 in the world and top ten in the United States. From the Wikipedia article:

The hotel is also on the Conde Nast Traveler "Gold List" of the "Best Places to Stay in the Whole World" and Travel + Leisure magazine's list of "Top 100 Hotels in the World." The Wine Spectator has provided the Grand Hotel its "Award of Excellence" and Gourmet Magazine's "Top 25 Hotels in the World" list. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has provided the facilities with a four-diamond rating[16] and in 2009 named the Grand Hotel one of the top 10 U.S. historic hotels.[17]

Readers may be familiar with the science fiction romance movie, Somewhere in Time, with Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer. It was filmed at the Grand Hotel.

Best of all, we got to stay there for absolutely free, including supper and breakfast! This was a great blessing for an apologist like me, with a very modest income and four children to provide for. Our room, at the weekday rates, would have cost $650. It was one of the few lakeview rooms with a balcony as well. It all came about when Judy's mother, Joan Kozora, wrote to the hotel, thanking them for the royal treatment she and her late husband Ray received when they visited for their 50th anniversary in 2004 (a gift courtesy of their six children). She also sent an old photograph from one of her sisters.

The owner then wrote back and invited her as a dinner guest, and a night's stay. By mere coincidence, our family was planning to visit her for our fall trip at her home in Ossineke, Michigan, in the northeast Lower Peninsula, ten miles south of Alpena, at the time. My mother-in-law asked if we could also come, in order to drive her there (about 100 miles from Ossineke), and mentioned that it was our 25th anniversary.

She was told that we were invited, too, courtesy of the hotel, for supper and overnight. We didn't know when we arrived if we would have separate rooms, but the hotel was gracious and generous enough to provide those, too. We didn't pay one red cent. All we paid was the fee for the ferry there and back, and for the horse-drawn carriages to the hotel from the ferry dock and back. We even received a professional photograph (seen below) for free, that would have been $20.

Here is a travelogue account, by photographs and brief commentary. You can click on photographs (where indicated) for a much larger version. Many can be clicked on twice, for two larger sizes (indicated).

The Grand Hotel (not our photo] [click to enlarge]

Near the main entrance. We rode in this kind of "old-fashioned"
carriage when we left
[click to enlarge]

The red carpet treatment! [click to enlarge]

Another close-up shot of the front of the hotel. Judy's mother's room
is seen on the upper far left, by the downspout.
[click to enlarge - twice]
The historical background detailed . . .

The lovely green in front of the hotel
[click to enlarge - twice]

Here you can see our room. It's on the bottom row, on the overhang, just to the
left of the central tower, with balconies: two separate ones!
[click to enlarge - twice]

Out by the romantic fountain. This was a washed-out photo, so I had to play
with it, and opted for the artsy "dreamlike" look
[click to enlarge - twice]
Close-up from the above: again modified with Photo Editor. I love "high contrast".

On the famous porch [click to enlarge]
The lovely bride is as pretty as ever!

One of the main lobbies [click to enlarge - twice]

In the fabulous dining room, dressed up for the evening
(required in the hotel!)
[click to enlarge]
Judy's mother

Calling the old-fashioned way (two hands)
[click to enlarge - twice]

Elegant and quaint winter travel accommodations
[click to enlarge - twice]

Back to the porch in the moonlight after dinner. Great view
of the dining area through the window
[click to enlarge - twice]

Romantic atmosphere to spare out there!
[click to enlarge - twice]
A lovely Michigan autumn evening on the world's longest porch. . .

The grand staircase; on the way to the dance floor
[click to enlarge - twice]
And there we are, shuffling around. I proposed on a dance floor too,
at Judy's twin sister's wedding

The author finds a cozy little "book nook"
[click to enlarge -twice]

Typical 19th-century shops of the island
[click to enlarge - twice]

No cars or even roller skates allowed! [click to enlarge]

The old fort was actually Michigan's first state park
[click to enlarge]

Back to the ferry, before the coach turns into a pumpkin
[click to enlarge - twice]
Good views of the famous Mackinac Bridge can be
seen on the crossing
[not our photo]

At Sturgeon Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron,
with my daughter
[click to enlarge - twice]

Some beautiful mid-Michigan fall colors on the Au Sable River
[click to enlarge]

We're both fall fanatics. Can you blame us? Met in the fall; married
in the fall . . . I even showed Judy my recent fall color photos when
we first met in October 1982
[click to enlarge]

Our professional, "official" anniversary photo
[click to enlarge - twice]

Thanks so much for viewing our photos with us, and sharing our anniversary celebration. Hope you enjoyed 'em. Here's to the best wife in the whole world. I still literally believe that after 25 years. Thank you, Lord, for bringing her into my life and (crucially) giving me enough sense to know that she was the right one for me!

Premarital Sex: Does St. Paul Permit and Sanction It in 1 Corinthians 7:36? (vs. Scott Nemeth)

Scott Nemeth: 40-year-old unmarried non-virgin, and proud of it

Scott Nemeth is a person who seems to want to be identified online as one who has "proven" that premarital sex, or fornication, is permitted by the Bible. Hence he states in his profile:

I'm someone who has studied the topic of premarital sex in the New Testament in great detail. Over the years I've known that this whole topic was weaker in the original Greek writings of the New Testament than we are traditionally taught. This fact has given me enough doubt to feel OK about sexual activity I've had outside of marriage. More recently I decided I was done feeling just “OK” about this issue though and I was determined to know the absolute truth about premarital sex in the original writings of the New Testament with 100% certainty. The results of this study were surprising. Not only is the topic of premarital sex weaker in the Greek; there is hardly any puritanical standard described within the original writings of the New Testament. In fact the original writings tell us outright that premarital sex is NOT a sin. Check 1 Cor 7:36 in the KJV. I created this blog to discuss and provide news and information regarding the can of worms I'm opening.

He goes about his task on his blog, Not Another Generation. Near the top of the sidebar, he makes the following claim, complete with the obligatory reference to the dreaded "Christian Right":

The 3 Quick & Dirty Facts that the 'Christian' Right will never tell you about premarital sex in the Bible.

[ . . . ]

#2 The literal order of words of 1 Cor 7:36 put sex before marriage and it is declared to NOT be a sin. This is true in the Greek as well as the KJV, but it gets 'censored' in the modern translations.

He seems to regard this passage (if any one is to be chosen) as the "clincher" or knockout punch for his position of biblically condoned sexual activity outside of marriage. In a post devoted to it, he states:

The literal order of words in this verse, both in the original Greek and also in the King James Version put sexual activity before marriage and it is declared to not be a sin. When you realize the implications of the literal order of words of 1 Corinthians 7:36 it is hilarious to see how various modern translators attempt to deal with it. . . .

Bible translations do seem to be getting increasingly puritanical, at least depending on who the intended marketplace is. . . . Just remember, the Greek word for marriage is only used once, and it is the LAST word of this verse.

I first learned of Scott when he stopped by my blog (anyone is welcome to, including those holding any and all opposing views) and wrote (appropriately, under one of my main dialogues about premarital sex):

According to your views I'm supposed to be a 40 year-old virgin because I've never been married. Get real. The Scriptures do not condemn premarital sex, in fact it appears to be a blessing. Check out my blog or website and I'll show you the 3 Quick & Dirty facts that the 'Christian' Right will never tell you about premarital sex in the Bible.

I replied:

If you want to experience sex in the way that God intended, get married. What is so difficult about that? If you want to become that close to another person, then you should go the whole way and become united in soul and spirit, and make a commitment. This is not rocket science. It's basic common sense, confirmed by experience. Even your average love song "gets" it. There is a reason why a prostitute is a despised person; even despises herself.

The sexual revolution did not make this country a paradise and everyone astonishingly happy. That was all a big lie. I bought it for many years too. But now the results are in and we don't have the luxury of delusion, wishful thinking, and of selfish hedonism.

The Bible doesn't sanction sex outside of marriage. It's plain as day. But people manage to rationalize almost anything out of Scripture. I think you should be honest about it and just admit that you don't care about what Scripture teaches if you want to go this route.

I doubt that your arguments are even serious, given the frivolous title, but I'll check it out, out of curiosity. It might be fun to offer some sort of refutation.

After scanning his website, I reiterated:

Yeah; it looks interesting. I'll try to make some time for this in the near future, especially if you're willing to engage in a serious debate about what we each think the Bible actually teaches.

* * * * *

So here I am again writing about the Bible's view on sexuality: always a controversial endeavor in this day and age. Let's look very closely at 1 Corinthians 7:36, in context, and with consideration of the original Greek and many translations of it, and see if the Apostle Paul explicitly sanctions premarital sexuality, as Scott claims. I think many readers will be in for a big surprise at what can be discovered therein. In some ways, I was myself (I never fail to learn a lot whenever I delve into the Bible).

You'll note above that Scott considers the passage especially compelling for his position in the KJV. He alludes to that more than once. He thinks there is some sort of conspiracy among Bible translators, to become "increasingly puritanical." So let's examine the KJV rendering: not just the single verse, but the surrounding context and the complete scenario that Paul is dealing with:

1 Corinthians 7:36-38 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. [37] Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. [38] So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

Did you notice something unusual in there, particularly in 7:38 (I helped a bit with my bolding)? I didn't realize this, either, until I studied it more closely today (it was one of those marvelous "biblical discoveries" I love to find). The passage is not even talking about a man and his future bride (betrothed, engaged, or at the least, seriously in love). Paul is referring, rather, to a father and his daughter, in the context of a culture where marriages were usually either arranged by the parents, or at least took place only with their permission and consent.

The key is the phrase "giveth her in marriage" -- which makes no sense in terms of the relation of a man and future wife. It is the father who "gives in marriage." We use this terminology even today in the wedding ceremony. So something is awry here, at least in some translations. Scott is correct about that, but he is wrong as to the motivation behind the differences, and the meaning of the passage itself.

If indeed the passage is about a father and daughter, rather than an engaged couple, everything changes. For Scott's argument to have force, he now must believe that the Bible sanctions incest between a father and a daughter, before they get married to each other (huh??!!). I believe he wouldn't try to defend such an ethically atrocious position, so his argument proves too much and must be discarded.

One must understand what refers to what in the passage. Paul is saying that a father who gives his daughter in marriage does well; if he does not, it is even better. It is a "good and better" contrast, such as he does earlier in the chapter regarding the higher path of remaining celibate and single (7:1, 7-8, 25-27, 32-35, 38) vs. getting married (also a very good thing: 7:2, 9, 28, 38). Paul's main point in all cases, is that everyone should live as they are called by God to do: whether married or single (7:7, 17, 20, 24). But the single state is to be celibate, not involving the sin of fornication (7:2, 9; cf. 6:9, 15-20).

So why the confusion in some translations as to whether this "virgin" is a betrothed future wife of a man or his daughter? The original Greek may explain some of that. The literal phrase in 1 Corinthians 7:37 is terein ten heautou parthenon: translated by A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures in the New Testament as To keep his own virgin daughter. In Jay P. Green's Pocket Interlinear New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979, p. 398), the hyper-literal rendering of the Greek is "to keep the of himself virgin[ity]."

That this verse refers to a virgin daughter of a man is verified by Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine (listed under Virgin / Parthenos):

(d) those concerning whom the Apostle Paul gives instructions regarding marriage, 1 Cor 7:25,28,34; in 1 Cor 7:36-38, the subject passes to that of "virgin daughters" (RV), which almost certainly formed one of the subjects upon which the church at Corinth sent for instructions from the Apostle; one difficulty was relative to the discredit which might be brought upon a father (or guardian), if he allowed his daughter or ward to grow old unmarried. The interpretation that this passage refers to a man and woman already in some kind of relation by way of a spiritual marriage and living together in a vow of virginity and celibacy, is untenable if only in view of the phraseology of the passage;

Joseph H. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (reprinted by Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977, from the 1901 edition, p. 489, Strong's word #3933) concurs:

one's marriageable daughter, 1 Co. vii. 36 sqq.

What about the business of "giving the daughter"? According to Robertson:

Paul commends the father who gives his daughter in marriage (gamizei). This verb gamizw has not been found outside the N.T. see on Matthew 22:30.

Matthew 22:30 reads (RSV):

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (cf. Mk 12:25; Lk 20:34-35)

Note also the related passages:

Luke 17:27 (RSV) They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (cf. Matt 24:38)

This is the same notion as in 1 Corinthians 7:38. Note the contrast between "marry" and "given in marriage." It is two different concepts. The first refers to the man and wife, as subject; the second to the father "giving" his daughter (away) in marriage.

The Greek word in Matthew 22:30, Luke 17:27, and 1 Corinthians 7:38 alike is ekgamizo (Strong's word #1547), from the root gamos [marry] (Strong's word #1062). Likewise, in Mark 12:25 it is gamisko (Strong's word #1061); literally, given in marriage. And Luke 20:34-35 uses the cognate ekgamisto (Strong's word #1548). Thayer's lexicon confirms the meanings of all these:

to give a daughter in marriage: 1 Co. vii. 38 . . . Mt. xxii. 30 . . . Mk. xii. 25; Lk. xvii. 27; xx. 35 . . .

(p. 109, under #1060a)

to give away . . . in marriage: a daughter, 1 Co. vii. 38 . . . ; Mt. xxiv. 38 . . . Pass. to marry, to be given in marriage, Mt. xxii. 30 . . . ; Lk. xvii. 27 . . .

(p. 193, under #1547)

So we know what the basic meaning of the passage is now, and it has nothing even to do with Scott's scenario of sanctioned sexual intercourse of betrothed couples (sorry to disappoint you, Scott, or take away your fun!). It has to do, in point of fact, with parental permission or arrangement of marriage: father to daughter.

Note also a number of older Bible commentaries, that unanimously hold to the same interpretation.

I suppose Scott could posit a conspiracy among Bible lexicons, too (as well as among translations). Weirder things have been believed. In my opinion, several translations have missed the proper meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:36-38, according to what we have learned above, using the appropriate Greek language aids. But several others have not. It's a mixed bag, and so one has to go back and study the words and phrases involved, as we have indeed done, in order to draw any sort of solid, rationally-based conclusion.

I have some thirty or so Bible translations in my library (and found others online as well). Here are the ones that translate 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 according to what I have presented and argued above:

NASB But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. 37 But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. 38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

God's Word translation No father would want to do the wrong thing when his virgin daughter is old enough to get married. If she wants to get married, he isn't sinning by letting her get married. 37 However, a father may have come to a decision about his daughter. If his decision is to keep her [at home] because she doesn't want to get married, that's fine. 38 So it's fine for a father to give his daughter in marriage, but the father who doesn't give his daughter in marriage does even better.

ASV But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she be past the flower of her age, and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them marry. 37 But he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power as touching in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, shall do well. 38 So then both he that giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage doeth well; and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better.

ERV But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she be past the flower of her age, and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them marry. 37 But he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power as touching his own will, and hath determined this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, shall do well. 38 So then both he that giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage doeth well; and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better.

Weymouth If, however, a father thinks he is acting unbecomingly towards his still unmarried daughter if she be past the bloom of her youth, and so the matter is urgent, let him do what she desires; he commits no sin; she and her suitor should be allowed to marry. 37 But if a father stands firm in his resolve, being free from all external constraint and having a legal right to act as he pleases, and in his own mind has come to the decision to keep his daughter unmarried, he will do well. 38 So that he who gives his daughter in marriage does well, and yet he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

World English Bible But if any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of her age, and if need so requires, let him do what he desires. He doesn't sin. Let them marry. 37 But he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own heart, to keep his own virgin, does well. 38 So then both he who gives his own virgin in marriage does well, and he who doesn't give her in marriage does better.

Webster's Bible Translation But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself uncomely towards his virgin, if she hath passed the flower of her age, and need so requireth, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless, he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

Douay-Rheims But if any man think that he seemeth dishonoured, with regard to his virgin, for that she is above the age, and it must so be: let him do what he will; he sinneth not, if she marry. 37 For he that hath determined being steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but having power of his own will; and hath judged this in his heart, to keep his virgin, doth well. 38 Therefore, both he that giveth his virgin in marriage, doth well; and he that giveth her not, doth better.

NKJV But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

Third Millennium Bible But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age and need so require, let him do what he will--he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless, he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well, but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

Wuest's Expanded Translation . . . in the case of his virgin daughter . . . his own daughter . . . he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage is doing well, and he who does not do so will do better.

Amplified 38 So also then, he [the father] who gives [his daughter, virgin] in marriage does well . . .

Williams Now if a father thinks that he is not doing the proper thing regarding his single daughter . . . Let the daughter and her suitor marry . . . he has made the decision in his own heart to keep her single . . . the man who gives his daughter in marriage does what is right . . .

Jerusalem Bible Still, if there is anyone who feels that it would not be fair to his daughter to let her grow too old for marriage . . . the man who sees that his daughter is married has done a good thing . . .

Confraternity Therefore both he who gives his virgin in marriage does well, and he who does not give her does better.

Knox Thus, a man is well advised to give his ward in marriage, and still better advised not to give her in marriage.

[footnote: But there seems to be no authority for translating the verb in verse 38 'to marry'; it always means 'to give in marriage'; cf. Like xvii. 27, a context which St. Paul may ave in mind.]

Moreover, the NIV footnotes give an alternate version that coincides with the above (oops! that wrecks the "Puritan" conspiracy of the NIV, to even mention this):

NIV (alternate suggested reading) If anyone thinks he is not treating his daughter properly, and if she is getting along in years, and he feels she ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. He should let her get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind to keep the virgin unmarried-this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who gives his virgin in marriage does right, but he who does not give her in marriage does even better.

The NEB does the same:

NEB (variant reading) Or a virgin daughter (or ward). . . . Or, let the girl and her lover marry . . . Or his daughter . . . Or gives his daughter in marriage.

As does the CEV:

CEV (variant reading) If you feel that you are not treating your grown daughter right by keeping her from getting married, then let her marry. You won't be doing anything wrong.

The following translations have the competing interpretation (in my opinion, much less plausible, based on the Greek and cross-referencing), of a man and his future wife, irregardless of parents:

RSV If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry--it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancee, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37 But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancee, he will do well. 38 So then, he who marries his fiancee does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.

TNIV If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting beyond the usual age for marrying and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin--this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

ISV If a man thinks he is not behaving properly toward his virgin, and if his passion is so strong that he feels he ought to marry her, let him do what he wants; he isn't sinning. Let them get married. 37 However, if a man stands firm in his resolve, feels no necessity, and has made up his mind to keep her a virgin, he will be acting appropriately. 38 So then the man who marries the virgin acts appropriately, but the man who refrains from marriage does even better.

Darby But if any one think that he behaves unseemly to his virginity, if he be beyond the flower of his age, and so it must be, let him do what he will, he does not sin: let them marry. 37 But he who stands firm in his heart, having no need, but has authority over his own will, and has judged this in his heart to keep his own virginity, he does well. 38 So that he that marries himself does well; and he that does not marry does better.

Bible in Basic English But if, in any man's opinion, he is not doing what is right for his virgin, if she is past her best years, and there is need for it, let him do what seems right to him; it is no sin; let them be married. 37 But the man who is strong in mind and purpose, who is not forced but has control over his desires, does well if he comes to the decision to keep her a virgin. 38 So then, he who gets married to his virgin does well, and he who keeps her unmarried does better.

Good News Translation (Today's English Version)In the case of an engaged couple who have decided not to marry: if the man feels that he is not acting properly toward the young woman and if his passions are too strong and he feels that they ought to marry, then they should get married, as he wants to. There is no sin in this. 37 But if a man, without being forced to do so, has firmly made up his mind not to marry, and if he has his will under complete control and has already decided in his own mind what to do - then he does well not to marry the young woman. 38 So the man who marries does well, but the one who doesn't marry does even better.

New Century Version If a man thinks he is not doing the right thing with the girl he is engaged to, if she is almost past the best age to marry and he feels he should marry her, he should do what he wants. They should get married. It is no sin. 37 But if a man is sure in his mind that there is no need for marriage, and has his own desires under control, and has decided not to marry the one to whom he is engaged, he is doing the right thing. 38 So the man who marries his girl does right, but the man who does not marry will do better.

Living Bible But if anyone feels he ought to marry because he has trouble controlling his passions, it is all right, it is not a sin; let him marry.

New Living Translation But if a man thinks he ought to marry his fiance because he has trouble controlling his passions and time is passing, it is all right; it is not a sin. Let them marry. 37 But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry. 38 So the person who marries does well, and the person who doesn't marry does even better.

Beck If a man thinks he's not acting properly toward his girl . . . If, then, he marries his girl . . .

Phillips Modern English But if any man feels he is not behaving honourably towards the woman he loves . . . if he decides not to marry the young woman, he too will be doing the right thing.

NEB Thus, he who marries his partner does well, and he who does not will do better.

REB Thus he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who does not marry does better.

NAB (revised, 1986) So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better.

CEV But suppose you are engaged to someone old enough to be married, and you want her so much that all you can think about is getting married. Then go ahead and marry.

Moffatt . . . if any man considers that he is not behaving properly to the maid who is his spiritual bride, if his passions are strong and it must be so, then let him do what he wants -- let them be married; it is no sin for him.

Goodspeed But if a man thinks he is not acting properly toward the girl to whom he is engaged . . .

William Barclay's translation is unique in that he decided to incorporate both interpretations together, in verse 38 (rather than footnote one):

. . . if a man gives his virgin daughter in marriage (or, marries his fianceee, or marries the girl he had decided to live with and to remain unmarried), he does well; but if he does not, he will do still better.

In conclusion, I submit that the lexicons are very clear that an unmarried daughter is being referred to here, and that the phrase "given in marriage" (ekgamizo [Strong's word #1547] in 1 Corinthians 7:38; cf. gamisko [Strong's word #1061] and ekgamisto [Strong's word #1548] ) is particularly decisive for this position. I also suspect (though I don't assert) that the more modern translations are unduly biased against the ancient concept of arranged marriages; hence the bias shows up in how they handle and interpret and translate these Greek texts, whose literal meaning is not a mystery at all.

Lastly, in Scott's campaign to legitimize unmarried sexuality and give it the NT stamp of approval, he neglects other indications in the same general context, that this is not what Paul has in mind at all. For example:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2 (RSV) Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. [2] But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Paul here clearly, I think, recommends marriage as the resolution of the problem of sexual temptation. Marriage is the place wherein sexuality is morally consummated and the natural desires channeled properly, in the overall safety of a commitment. This is the complete opposite of Scott's contention, which would have Paul argue that there is no temptation; there is simply desire (and desire that cannot possibly be controlled: so he thinks), and this ought to be consummated regardless of whether one is married or not. We must re-write the Bible, then, so it fits into Scott's wishful thinking schema:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2 (SNV) Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man to touch a woman, whether he is married to her or not. [2] And because of natural desires, each man should have sex with his own girlfriend and each woman have sex with her own boyfriend.

The same dynamic occurs seven verses later:

1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

Paul presupposes that (sexual) self-control is the norm and the goal. Failing that, the solution is to marry, not to indulge anyway, regardless of marriage, as if there is nothing wrong with that. Marriage and "aflame with passion" (i.e., in an unmarried state) are antithetical to each other. Scott would have it be just the opposite, and so we clearly need a new Bible rendering to reflect his arbitrary opinions:

1 Corinthians 7:9 (SNV) But if unmarried couples cannot exercise self-control, they should have sex. For it is better to be aflame with passion and engage in sexual intercourse unmarried, than not to (which is impossible to do, anyway). It is better to do this than wait till one is married.

If we want to change the Bible at will, of course anything is possible. Most people who disbelieve its contents are not that brazen, however, so they take the more subtle route of misinterpreting the Bible and neglecting the meanings of words therein (a shortcoming that can easily be rectified with the aid of language aids).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Did Pastor Paul T. McCain (LCMS) Compare Lutheran Pastors Who Become Catholic or Orthodox, to Judas Iscariot?

Rev. Paul T. McCain: an active LCMS pastor, with a thriving website, wrote a post called Warning Signs that a Lutheran Pastor or Layperson is Headed Toward Rome. I replied on his blog regarding this matter, but for some reason my comment would not post, after two tries (must be technical difficulties, I guess). So I have made this (expanded) post about it instead.

In it, he wrote:

One chap who abandoned his call and his ordination, spent quite some time overly-fascinated with Roman Catholic doctrines, and finally ended up rejecting the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ, alone.
As I once said to those Lutheran pastors and layman dabbling with Eastern Orthodoxy: if you are not going to stay and remain among us, taking your post on Zion’s wall, then what you must do, do quickly. Stop confusing yourself and your hearers. It is tempting for Lutherans whose church bodies are experiencing serious difficulties to look fondly toward Rome, but it is simply not an option for anyone who wishes to be, and remain, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are there devout Christians who are Roman Catholics? Of that I have no doubt, at all. That is not the point.
[my blue coloring added]

Mark asked in the combox:

Do you really mean to say that we, who are seeking to enter into full communion with the church Jesus Christ founded, are Judas Iscariots?

Pastor McCain replied:

That’s odd, I did not say that, . . .

And now I reply that it was strongly implied, since he virtually quoted John 13:27. He wrote:

if you are not going to stay and remain among us, taking your post on Zion’s wall, then what you must do, do quickly.

John 13:26b-27 (RSV) reads :

. . . So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.[27] Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly.

Perhaps it was an unintended Freudian slip, huh?

Moreover, there is the allusion to "among us" that is also reminiscent of biblical language about Judas:

Acts 1:16-17 "Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. [17] For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry.

I submit that Acts 1:16-17 in turn is thematically related to another similar passage:
1 John 2:18-19 Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. [19] They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us.

Pastor McCain knows the biblical phraseology in all three of these instances very well. It's difficult to believe that he didn't have at least one or more of them in mind (particularly the "do quickly" phrase, which can hardly be any clearer than it is). But he wants to play games and make out that commenter Mark is reading into things and being overly suspicious ("That’s odd, I did not say that"). It's not "odd" at all, but perfectly understandable that another person familiar with the Bible would draw such a conclusion, or have this suspicion.

Of course, when it comes to folks from other communions converting to Lutheranism, that is a whole 'nother story. No talk of Judas or implied apostasy there! So Pastor McCain gushingly writes:

Converts to Lutheranism Tell Their Stories

I ran across recently an interesting web site that provides the personal accounts of people who have come to Lutheranism from other denominational backgrounds. Very interesting indeed! If you know of other converts to Lutheranism who might like to share their stories, please send them to: . . .

(27 September 2007)

And again, he states:

I’ve lost track of the number of converts who have contacted me over the years from various places telling me all the reasons they were attracted to Lutheranism . . .

One convert told me it was precisely in how Biblically powerful Lutheranism’s presentation on Holy Baptism is that convinced him. Another told me that he had never heard the Lord’s Supper so beautifully explained and confessed and lived out as it is in Lutheranism. Time and time again converts tell me that it was in the clear proclamation of the liberating Gospel that they found only in Lutheranism that they were won over for Lutheranism.

(19 March 2007)

But if we Catholic converts deign to share what attracted us to Catholicism, then Pastor McCain makes remarks such as the following, directed towards yours truly on my own blog, less than ten weeks after the above observation:

Dave, I've been wondering for some time if you are a convert to Roman Catholicism and now I see in your revised comments that you are. Many things now make a lot more sense. It has been my experience that converts such as yourself exhibit a near-breathless desperation constantly to be, no pun intended, justifying their decision to join Romanism.

(30 May 2007)

At least Pastor McCain is a true believer in Lutheranism as the best Christian option. In that respect he is far more like Martin Luther than the millions of Protestants today who pride themselves on their uncertainty and lack of dogmatism -- i.e., in the strictly doctrinal sense (as I've often written about, even recently). Pastor McCain's problem is the double standard he applies to one set of converts over against the other. He has to glorify one and demonize or at least trivialize and mock the other, because the former are coming into his camp and the latter are leaving it. I think it is far more complex than that. Having myself converted both to evangelicalism and Catholicism I know a little bit about the processes involved from the inside.

On the other hand, if it is someone he personally admires, who has become a Catholic (like Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, as I recently wrote about), then he changes his tone again and rationally treats the subject.

If the class of Lutheran pastors over "here" who become Catholics (I talked to two recently at a conference) are like Judas, then why not Fr. Neuhaus, too? Of if the latter is not, then why not extend a little more charity to the class of former Lutheran pastors, who perhaps have what they feel are perfectly good reasons to convert to Catholicism (or Orthodoxy), too?

But in any event we shouldn't treat people differently just because they happen to have more importance and influence, lest we fall into a variation of the hypocrisy that St. James rebuked in reference to how we treat rich and poor people (James 2:1-7).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Antidote to John Calvin's Institutes (IV,15:1-9) [Baptismal Regeneration (?) / Instant, Assured Salvation (?) / Penance / John's Baptism]

See the introduction and links to all installments at the top of my John Calvin, Calvinism, and General Protestantism web page; also the online version of the Institutes. Calvin's words will be in blue throughout. All biblical citations (in my portions) will be from RSV unless otherwise noted.

* * * * *

Book IV



1. Baptism defined. Its primary object. This consists of three things. 1. To attest the forgiveness of sins.

Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God. Moreover, the end for which God has given it (this I have shown to be common to all mysteries) is, first, that it may be conducive to our faith in him; and, secondly, that it may serve the purpose of a confession among men. The nature of both institutions we shall explain in order. Baptism contributes to our faith three things, which require to be treated separately. The first object, therefore, for which it is appointed by the Lord, is to be a sign and evidence of our purification, or (better to explain my meaning) it is a kind of sealed instrument by which he assures us that all our sins are so deleted, covered, and effaced, that they will never come into his sight, never be mentioned, never imputed. For it is his will that all who have believed, be baptised for the remission of sins. Hence those who have thought that baptism is nothing else than the badge and mark by which we profess our religion before men, in the same way as soldiers attest their profession by bearing the insignia of their commander, having not attended to what was the principal thing in baptism; and this is, that we are to receive it in connection with the promise, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).

This section sounds almost Catholic, and seems to teach baptismal regeneration (especially in the terminology of "baptised for the remission of sins" and "sins . . . deleted" and reference to Mark 16:16 and salvation). But I suspect that Calvin will back off of the full Catholic position as he proceeds. It'll die the death of a dozen (if not a thousand) qualifications. Often, Calvin sounds Catholic, but upon closer inspection, he has redefined definitions of words, so that in the end he is usually talking about something different. This is the classic hallmark of liberal theology as well. Or he will contradict himself by stating two mutually exclusive things, as if both could be true. The Catholic "both/and" outlook, on the other hand, is always non-contradictory.

2. Passages of Scripture proving the forgiveness of sins.

In this sense is to be understood the statement of Paul, that “Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25, 26); and again, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Peter also says that “baptism also doth now save us” (1 Peter 3:21).

Alas, this again sounds extremely Catholic: baptismal regeneration: salvation by means of the sacrament.

For he did not mean to intimate that our ablution and salvation are perfected by water, or that water possesses in itself the virtue of purifying, regenerating, and renewing; nor does he mean that it is the cause of salvation, but only that the knowledge and certainty of such gifts are perceived in this sacrament.

And now, as predicted, Calvin starts to back off of the literal meaning of regeneration and make his trademark qualifications, that (sadly) proceed from his self-generated traditions rather than Holy Scripture; along with highly selective prooftexting: another constant modus operandi of Calvin's.

This the words themselves evidently show. For Paul connects together the word of life and baptism of water, as if he had said, by the gospel the message of our ablution and sanctification is announced; by baptism this message is sealed.

Of course the gospel and baptism are intimately connected, but it doesn't follow that the water (accompanied by the proper formula and by the faith of the person, or of others in the case of an infant) is not a direct instrument of God's saving grace, as a sacrament. The same St. Paul also wrote, in giving an account of his own baptism:

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

And Peter immediately subjoins, that that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, which is of faith.”

That's right. But St. Peter states the following as well:

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Note how the Holy Spirit is giving after, and as a result of baptism, rather than the opposite order, in Calvin's schema, whereby he stresses that salvation is a seal of what has already occurred.

Nay, the only purification which baptism promises is by means of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, who is figured by water from the resemblance to cleansing and washing.

The power of baptism stems, of course, from the cross. But the two aren't mutually exclusive. Baptism has the power to regenerate. Sacraments aren't contrary to Jesus' work on our behalf, which alone gives them their power and efficacy.

Who, then, can say that we are cleansed by that water which certainly attests that the blood of Christ is our true and only laver?

Jesus, Paul, and Peter, for three . . .

So that we cannot have a better argument to refute the hallucination of those who ascribe the whole to the virtue of water than we derive from the very meaning of baptism, which leads us away as well from the visible element which is presented to our eye, as from all other means, that it may fix our minds on Christ alone.

It is fixing our mind on Christ when we believe in a sacrament that He Himself set up and commanded. How is that separate from Christ? It is only in Calvin's fallacious "either/or" mentality, which pits things against each other that don't have to be so opposed at all.

3. Forgiveness not only of past but also of future sins. This no encouragement to license in sin.

Nor is it to be supposed that baptism is bestowed only with reference to the past, so that, in regard to new lapses into which we fall after baptism, we must seek new remedies of expiation in other so-called sacraments, just as if the power of baptism had become obsolete. To this error, in ancient times, it was owing that some refused to be initiated by baptism until their life was in extreme danger, and they were drawing their last breath, that they might thus obtain pardon for all the past. Against this preposterous precaution ancient bishops frequently inveigh in their writings. We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life.

This "instant salvation" notion is simply not biblical. We always have the free will to lapse back into sin and rebellion against God. This is made clear in many passages from St. Paul:

1 Corinthians 9:27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Galatians 5:1, 4 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. . . . You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

1 Timothy 5:15 For some have already strayed after Satan.

2 Timothy 2:12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; (cf. also Hebrews 3:12-14; 4:14; 6:4-6, 15; 10:26, 29; 10:36-39; 12:15; 2 Peter 2:15, 20-21; Rev 2:3-5; 3:3-5, 11)

Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism, and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins.

Holy Scripture never spells out such a doctrine, if in fact, a person again falls into serious sin. Baptism doesn't remit future sins. Also, St. Paul repeatedly warns that various serious sins will bar one from salvation and heaven (e.g., 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5).

For though, when once administered, it seems to have passed, it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the purity of Christ was therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it wipes and washes away all our defilements.

That is simply not what Scripture teaches (per the above passages and many more). It is a man-made tradition and a dangerous falsehood, that allows people too much security in their serious sin, so that they can justify it to themselves and not have to worry about the consequences. Falsehood has a way of producing very bad fruit, even against the good intentions of the mistaken promulgators of it.

Nor must we hence assume a licence of sinning for the future (there is certainly nothing in it to countenance such audacity),

Here are the good intentions; but the person in bondage to sin quickly rationalizes his sin away, and the "instant salvation" myth is one way that fits agreeably with their wayward path.

but this doctrine is intended only for those who, when they have sinned, groan under their sins burdened and oppressed, that they may have wherewith to support and console themselves, and not rush headlong into despair. Thus Paul says that Christ was made a propitiation for us for the remission of sins that are past (Rom. 3:25). By this he denies not that constant and perpetual forgiveness of sins is thereby obtained even till death: he only intimates that it is designed by the Father for those poor sinners who, wounded by remorse of conscience, sigh for the physician. To these the mercy of God is offered. Those who, from hopes of impunity, seek a licence for sin, only provoke the wrath and justice of God.

If sins are removed for all time by one act of baptism, and salvation secure, why, then, does Scripture talk about a sin unto death (mortal sin)?:

1 John 5:16-17 If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. [17] All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.

And why does it talk about remission of sins and retention of sins (by priests)?:

John 20:21-23 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

This makes no sense if in fact sins are wiped away in one single act and no longer possess any force with regard to one's spiritual state and assured salvation.

4. Refutation of those who share forgiveness between Baptism and Repentance.

I know it is a common belief that forgiveness, which at our first regeneration we receive by baptism alone, is after baptism procured by means of penitence and the keys (see chap. 19 sec. 17).

Exactly. So Calvin recognizes the opposing argument that I just made (before reading this). That's good; but his argument against it is not so good, and hardly successful.

But those who entertain this fiction err from not considering that the power of the keys, of which they speak, so depends on baptism, that it ought not on any account to be separated from it.

That is not stated in Scripture (certainly not in a way that would hold that absolution is contrary to the supposed "lifetime assurance" of baptism), and is a groundless, special pleading assumption on Calvin's part.

The sinner receives forgiveness by the ministry of the Church; in other words, not without the preaching of the gospel. And of what nature is this preaching? That we are washed from our sins by the blood of Christ. And what is the sign and evidence of that washing if it be not baptism? We see, then, that that forgiveness has reference to baptism. This error had its origin in the fictitious sacrament of penance, on which I have already touched.

This sacrament is expressly establish by our Lord Jesus Christ:

Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 18:18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

The following instance of Paul imposing penance on a sinner and relaxing it, is more evidence along the same lines:

1 Corinthians 5:1-5: It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2 Corinthians 2:6-11:
For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

St. Paul's language of "I have already pronounced judgment" and "deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved" and "you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him" and "Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive" makes absolutely no sense in Calvin's schema. It's desperate argumentation on his part to claim that forgiveness is taken care of in one fell swoop in baptism and the moment of justification.

What remains will be said at the proper place. There is no wonder if men who, from the grossness of their minds, are excessively attached to external things, have here also betrayed the defect,—if not contented with the pure institution of God, they have introduced new helps devised by themselves, as if baptism were not itself a sacrament of penance.

It is the inspired writers of the Bible who have given us the doctrine of penance, not the (actual or imagined) corrupt Catholics that Calvin so despises. If Calvin wants to defend an anti-biblical doctrine, then he should at least be honest enough to admit that his views are contrary to Scripture, rather than make his target Catholics who are merely following that same Scripture in this regard.

But if repentance is recommended during the whole of life, the power of baptism ought to have the same extent.

What "ought to" be according to Calvin, and what is, according to the Bible, are too often (and in this case) two different things.

Wherefore, there can be no doubt that all the godly may, during the whole course of their lives, whenever they are vexed by a consciousness of their sins, recall the remembrance of their baptism, that they may thereby assure themselves of that sole and perpetual ablution which we have in the blood of Christ.

Such a doctrine is taught nowhere in Scripture, whereas penitential practices and repentance and priestly absolution after baptism clearly is.

5. Second thing in Baptism—viz. to teach that we are ingrafted into Christ for mortification and newness of life.

Another benefit of baptism is, that it shows us our mortification in Christ and new life in him. “Know ye not,” says the apostle, “that as many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death,” that we “should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3, 4). By these words, he not only exhorts us to imitation of Christ, as if he had said, that we are admonished by baptism, in like manner as Christ died, to die to our lusts, and as he rose, to rise to righteousness; but he traces the matter much higher, that Christ by baptism has made us partakers of his death, ingrafting us into it. And as the twig derives substance and nourishment from the root to which it is attached, so those who receive baptism with true faith truly feel the efficacy of Christ’s death in the mortification of their flesh, and the efficacy of his resurrection in the quickening of the Spirit. On this he founds his exhortation, that if we are Christians we should be dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness. He elsewhere uses the same argument—viz. that we are circumcised, and put off the old man, after we are buried in Christ by baptism (Col. 2:12). And in this sense, in the passage which we formerly quoted, he calls it “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5). We are promised, first, the free pardon of sins and imputation of righteousness; and, secondly, the grace of the Holy Spirit, to form us again to newness of life.

This is correct as far as it goes. The same general idea is taught by Paul in Romans:

Romans 8:10-11, 16-17 But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. [11] If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. . . . [16] it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [17] and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The only incorrect thing in Calvin's analysis here, from a Catholic perspective, is that this is a lifetime assurance based on baptism.

6. Third thing in Baptism—viz. to teach us that we are united to Christ so as to be partakers of all his blessings. Second and third things conspicuous in the baptism both of John and the apostles.

The last advantage which our faith receives from baptism is its assuring us not only that we are ingrafted into the death and life of Christ, but so united to Christ himself as to be partakers of all his blessings. For he consecrated and sanctified baptism in his own body, that he might have it in common with us as the firmest bond of union and fellowship which he deigned to form with us; and hence Paul proves us to be the sons of God, from the fact that we put on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27). Thus we see the fulfilment of our baptism in Christ, whom for this reason we call the proper object of baptism. Hence it is not strange that the apostles are said to have baptised in the name of Christ, though they were enjoined to baptise in the name of the Father and Spirit also (Acts 8:16; 19:5; Mt. 28:19). For all the divine gifts held forth in baptism are found in Christ alone. And yet he who baptises into Christ cannot but at the same time invoke the name of the Father and the Spirit. For we are cleansed by his blood, just because our gracious Father, of his incomparable mercy, willing to receive us into favour, appointed him Mediator to effect our reconciliation with himself.

No particular Catholic objection . . .

Regeneration we obtain from his death and resurrection only, when sanctified by his Spirit we are imbued with a new and spiritual nature.

More "either/or" fallacies . . . Of course it is from the work of Christ, but that doesn't mean that baptism cannot be the mediatory or sacramental instrument that God uses to bring about regeneration. The two are not mutually exclusive. The illogical "either/or" mentality is one of the most fundamental errors of Protestantism: affecting almost every error it espouses.

Wherefore we obtain, and in a manner distinctly perceive, in the Father the cause, in the Son the matter, and in the Spirit the effect of our purification and regeneration. Thus first John baptised, and thus afterwards the apostles by the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, understanding by the term repentance, regeneration, and by the remission of sins, ablution.

Repentance is not yet regeneration. Calvin collapses the two terms into one, but they are not the same.

7. Identity of the baptism of John and the apostles.

This makes it perfectly certain that the ministry of John was the very same as that which was afterwards delegated to the apostles. For the different hands by which baptism is administered do not make it a different baptism, but sameness of doctrine proves it to be the same. John and the apostles agreed in one doctrine. Both baptised unto repentance, both for remission of sins, both in the name of Christ, from whom repentance and remission of sins proceed. John pointed to him as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29), thus describing him as the victim accepted of the Father, the propitiation of righteousness, and the author of salvation. What could the apostles add to this confession? Wherefore, let no one be perplexed because ancient writers labour to distinguish the one from the other. Their views ought not to be in such esteem with us as to shake the certainty of Scripture. For who would listen to Chrysostom denying that remission of sins was included in the baptism of John (Hom. in Mt. 1:14), rather than to Luke asserting, on the contrary, that John preached “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins?” (Luke 3:3). Nor can we admit Augustine’s subtlety, that by the baptism of John sins were forgiven in hope, but by the baptism of Christ are forgiven in reality. For seeing the Evangelist clearly declares that John in his baptism promised the remission of sins, why detract from this eulogium when no necessity compels it? Should any one ask what difference the word of God makes, he will find it to be nothing more than that John baptised in the name of him who was to come, the apostles in the name of him who was already manifested (Luke 3:16; Acts 19:4).

John's baptism is similar insofar as it was for the remission of sins (Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3; Acts 19:4); however, it lacked the aspect of the new birth, or regeneration (Matt 3:11 [John's own words, distinguishing the two]; Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5; Acts 2:38; Rom 6:4; Gal 3:27, etc.). Nor did John initially baptize in the name of Christ (for he had not yet met Him).

8. An objection to this refuted.

This fact, that the gifts of the Spirit were more liberally poured out after the resurrection of Christ, does not go to establish a diversity of baptisms. For baptism, administered by the apostles while he was still on the earth, was called his baptism, and yet the Spirit was not poured out in larger abundance on it than on the baptism of John.

Whoever is saved at any time, is saved because of Christ. All Christians agree on that.

Nay, not even after the ascension did the Samaritans receive the Spirit above the ordinary measure of former believers, till Peter and John were sent to lay hands on them (Acts 8:14-17). I imagine that the thing which imposed on ancient writers, and made them say that the one baptism was only a preparative to the other, was, because they read that those who had received the baptism of John were again baptised by Paul (Acts 19:3-5; Mt. 3:11).

And that is explicit biblical indication that the two baptisms were distinct; however similar they were in important respects (such as repentance and remission).

How greatly they are mistaken in this will be most clearly explained in its own place. Why, then, did John say that he baptised with water, but there was one coming who would baptise with the Holy Ghost and with fire? This may be explained in a few words. He did not mean to distinguish the one baptism from the other,

Hence Calvin attempts to explain away what is clear as day . . . the Holy Spirit coming into the baptized as a result of baptism is precisely a distinguishing mark of Jesus' baptism as opposed to John's. Christian baptism was instituted by Jesus as part of the New Covenant. John the Baptist was still part of the Old Covenant, as the last prophet (Matt 11:11; cf. Lk 7:28; Jn 5:36).

but he contrasted his own person with the person of Christ, saying, that while he was a minister of water, Christ was the giver of the Holy Spirit, and would declare this virtue by a visible miracle on the day on which he would send the Holy Spirit on the apostles, under the form of tongues of fire. What greater boast could the apostles make, and what greater those who baptise in the present day? For they are only ministers of the external sign, whereas Christ is the Author of internal grace, as those same ancient writers uniformly teach, and, in particular, Augustine, who, in his refutation of the Donatists, founds chiefly on this axiom, Whoever it is that baptises, Christ alone presides.

The regenerating grace comes through the water as a sacrament, by Christ's own design and will.

9. The benefits of baptism typified to the Israelites by the passage of the Red Sea and the pillar of cloud.

The things which we have said, both of mortification and ablution, were adumbrated among the people of Israel, who, for that reason, are described by the apostle as having been baptised in the cloud and in the sea (1 Cor. 10:2). Mortification was figured when the Lord, vindicating them from the hand of Pharaoh and from cruel bondage, paved a way for them through the Red Sea, and drowned Pharaoh himself and their Egyptian foes, who were pressing close behind, and threatening them with destruction. For in this way also he promises us in baptism, and shows by a given sign that we are led by his might, and delivered from the captivity of Egypt, that is, from the bondage of sin, that our Pharaoh is drowned; in other words, the devil, although he ceases not to try and harass us. But as that Egyptian was not plunged into the depth of the sea, but cast out upon the shore, still alarmed the Israelites by the terror of his look, though he could not hurt them, so our enemy still threatens, shows his arms and is felt, but cannot conquer. The cloud was a symbol of purification (Num. 9:18). For as the Lord then covered them by an opposite cloud, and kept them cool, that they might not faint or pine away under the burning rays of the sun; so in baptism we perceive that we are covered and protected by the blood of Christ, lest the wrath of God, which is truly an intolerable flame, should lie upon us. Although the mystery was then obscure, and known to few, yet as there is no other method of obtaining salvation than in those two graces, God was pleased that the ancient fathers, whom he had adopted as heirs, should be furnished with both badges.

Calvin's analogy fails, since not all of the Israelites who were saved from the Egyptians via the dividing and closing of the Red Sea, were physically saved in the long run. Deliverance from physical death is the analogy in play. It is analogous to salvation, or the deliverance from eternal death and hell. This kind of "physical as a metaphor of spiritual" analogy is brought out clearly in 1 Peter 3:20b-21a:

. . . the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. [21] Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you . . .

Therefore, if salvation is once for all, based on baptism, as Calvin argues, then following the analogy, the Jews saved from the Egyptians by the metaphor of baptism (water of the Red Sea) could not have later been judged by God and prohibited from the Promised Land (itself a sort of metaphor for heaven). But we know that this is not the case. Far from saving the wandering Jews till the end (the Promised Land), God judged many of them as a result of the rebellion of Korah:

Numbers 16:19-35 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.
[20] And the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron,
[21] "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment."
[22] And they fell on their faces, and said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be angry with all the congregation?"
[23] And the LORD said to Moses,
[24] "Say to the congregation, Get away from about the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abi'ram."
[25] Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abi'ram; and the elders of Israel followed him.
[26] And he said to the congregation, "Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins."
[27] So they got away from about the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abi'ram; and Dathan and Abi'ram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones.
[28] And Moses said, "Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord.
[29] If these men die the common death of all men, or if they are visited by the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me.
[30] But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth, and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD."
[31] And as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split asunder;
[32] and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men that belonged to Korah and all their goods.
[33] So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.
[34] And all Israel that were round about them fled at their cry; for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up!"
[35] And fire came forth from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.

Not only were they killed by God, but they appear to be damned as well. Indeed, in the end, only Caleb and Joshua, of the original Hebrews from the Exodus, entered the Holy Land (Numbers 14:30). Even Moses was forbidden to do so. God judged all of them:

Numbers 14:21-35 but truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD,
[22] none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs which I wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the proof these ten times and have not hearkened to my voice,
[23] shall see the land which I swore to give to their fathers; and none of those who despised me shall see it.
[24] But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.
[25] Now, since the Amal'ekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea."
[26] And the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron,
[27] "How long shall this wicked congregation murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel, which they murmur against me.
[28] Say to them, `As I live,' says the LORD, `what you have said in my hearing I will do to you:
[29] your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and of all your number, numbered from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me,
[30] not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephun'neh and Joshua the son of Nun.
[31] But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised.
[32] But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness.
[33] And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.
[34] According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.'
[35] I, the LORD, have spoken; surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die."

This is hardly consistent (by symbolic analogy) with Calvin's fiction that baptism is a guarantee of eschatological salvation, regardless of any personal sin afterward. The exact opposite is the case.