“DOLPHINS IN THE WOODS”: A Critique of Mark Jones and Ted Van Raalte’s Presentation of Particular Baptist Covenant Theology, Samuel Renihan
On 24, Jan 2016 | In Samuel Renihan | By admin
In a JIRBS 2015 article, Samuel Renihan critiques a chapter in A Puritan Theology dealing with baptist covenant theology. Renihan demonstrates that Jones and Van Raalte’s failed to adequately understand and present the baptist position.
No one ever loses a debate. Both sides walk away in victory because they stated their cases correctly. The opponent, of course, completely misunderstood and simply didn’t get it. Even the audience agrees. “Our side won.” Sadly, most debates are like this, and debates between paedobaptists and Baptists throughout the years have been no exception to the trend. For many centuries the baptismal debate has divided, disappointingly but necessarily, brothers who otherwise share a great deal in common.
In Joel Beeke and Mark Jones’ massive and delightful A Puritan Theology they have dedicated a chapter to describing this debate as it took place in the late seventeenth century. Their chapter sets out to do two main things: first, to vindicate John Owen’s covenant theology from Baptist appropriation, and second, to demonstrate how John Flavel bested Philip Cary in their printed debate on the subject of covenant theology. This present article will evaluate the portrayal of the Particular Baptists as it is found in that chapter, clarifying how and why the Particular Baptists appropriated John Owen’s covenant theology and demonstrating that while the Cary/Flavel debate is useful for illustration, Cary’s views must be placed within the context of Particular Baptist federalism as a whole—particularly regarding the conditionality of the covenant of grace and the purpose and design of the Mosaic covenant. This evaluation is not intended to revive the debate itself, but rather to present a fairer and more complete portrait of Particular Baptist federalism and their arguments against paedobaptism.