Reforming The Reformed Pastor: Baptism and Justification as the Basis for Richard Baxter’s Pastoral Method -- By: James M. Renihan
Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 02:1 (Jan 2005)
Article: Reforming The Reformed Pastor: Baptism and Justification as the Basis for Richard Baxter’s Pastoral Method
Author: James M. Renihan
RBTR 2:1 (January 2005) p. 111
Reforming The Reformed Pastor:
Baptism and Justification as the Basis
for Richard Baxter’s Pastoral Method
James M. Renihan, Ph.D., is Dean of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies, Westminster Theological Seminary in California, Escondido, CA.
We say obedience supposeth a man justified; but these men say, that obedience concurs with faith to justify, or is part of our righteousness to justification: we affirm, as a worthy divine observes, that faith alone perfectly justifies, by trusting in the righteousness of Christ; so that there is no condemnation to them who are in Jesus Christ, Rom. 8.1 or truly believe in him; but they teach that faith and obedience justifie only, as the conditions of the Gospel, i.e. as thereby we doing what the Gospel requires of us.. .. Mr. Baxter. .. saith, that this condition (viz. the Covenant of Grace, by which we have right to the benefits of it) is our faith [mark it] or Christianity, as it is meant by Christ in the Baptismal Covenant, viz. to give up our selves in Covenant, believing in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, renouncing the contraries; and that though this consent to the Christian Covenant (called faith alone) be the full condition of our first right to the benefit of that Covenant (of which justification is one,) yet obediential performances, and conquest of temptations, and perseverance, are secondary parts of the condition of our right, as continued and consummated;. .. Moreover, tis worth noting to observe how Mr. Baxter seems to lay the whole stress of our first justification to what is promised in our baptismal covenant, wherein we profess faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. -- Benjamin Keach, The Marrow of True Justification. Or, Justification without Works, 12–13.
Some may think that I have embarked on a fool’s mission in writing this article. Of all the famous divines of the late Puritan era, Richard Baxter is regularly placed in the first rank. The encomiums for his practical works are legion, his admirers are among the most-respected writers of the last two centuries, and several of his works continue to sell at brisk rates among those interested in practical Christianity.
Despite these realities, three factors have led me to stay the course. The first factor is my own awareness that, in his day, Richard Baxter was
RBTR 2:1 (January 2005) p. 112
considered by many to be among the most controversial of theologians. Some of the best and brightest of the era believed that his theological system was heretical, and his views came under sustained criticism throughout his lifetime and beyond. While subsequent generations may (at least in popular opinion) consider Baxter at o...
Click here to subscribe