Volume 17, Issue 3: Sharpening Iron
Just what exactly is our obsession with the insect world, or at least with
the world of creepidies generally? It doesn't seem tasteful. In fact, it seems
rather distasteful. We talk about aesthetics; we make noises about beauty, and then
this, this little column of text that always seems to be about bugs, or slugs,
or rodents. Some believe that they have seen a contradiction, a certain
divergence from the orthodox position on Christian beauty.
We have a similar objection, but not with ourselves. We have filled out
a complaint and we have sent it straight to General Assembly. We have a
little trouble with God. Insects, slugs, and every other thing that may seem
larval or have had a larval state, were God's idea. We're not sure where He
got approval, but apparently He did, and it must have been pretty
open-ended. Stand in your backyard and stare at
your grass. Squint your eyes a bit, and you'll realize that your lawn is pretty
much always crawling around.
We had a friend once who spent a fair amount of time in the jungles
of Maryland. His job was to set out cups beneath the canopy of leaves, cups
that you might use to measure rainfall. But he wasn't measuring rainfall. He told
us that when he held still he could hear the clatter of what he was
measuringbug poo. When enough time had passed
he would take the cups off and identify the population density of the different
types of insects based on how much of their stool was represented. The
government wanted to know.
That's the sort of thing we complained about, the sort of thing
that Christians everywhere should declare inappropriate. But then, in moments
of doubt, we wonder if it might not be better to cut with the grain. God
might like us better if we were more like bugs.
It was 1989 or 1990 when the movie
Arachnophobia was filmed. I was 17 and attending Coast Union High
school in Cambria, California. The memory of this movie is etched in my mind.
You see the movie was filmed in Cambria and at my high school. I
should remember how cool it was to be an extra in the locker room scene, or a
football player in the practice
sceneemphasis on "I should." Everyone knew that
a movie was being filmed in town but no one knew the casting crew was
coming to campus to look for extras, even a speaking role. I was the
quarterback that year and that happened to be the role they were looking for. But
football season had ended and I went back to my true calling, surfing. Besides,
the role only had one line, six words. Big deal.
The air was crisp that day, the swell was up, and school was in session.
Bad combination. I spent the remainder of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th,
period classes studying marine biology at an undisclosed surf spot in Big Sur.
The surf was good, I was glad I had taken (ditched) the day off of school. But
this was the one time it didn't matter that I didn't get caught, I missed more
My friend Nate was a wide receiver that year. We shared similar
physical features; we might have passed for brothers. He should have been up in
Big Sur with me that day. Long story short, he got the speaking role as the
quarterback who put on his helmet and was bit by the spider and died. His one line
was "Like the back of my hand." The
thing that really hurt wasn't that he got the role; it was the $3,500.00 and the
trips down to L.A. to see if he fit other roles.The spiders had caught me in their net.
I'm pretty much over all of that now, 15 years later. I know "I could of been
a contender, I could of been somebody." Well the spiders have come back
to haunt me again. I think the film crew left a few of the bigger spiders
behind. The other night my wife and I heard some clickety-clackety on the floor
in the kitchen. Now imagine how big a spider has to be to be able to hear
it walking across the floor from a room away. I thought it was a tarantula.
And the next night, the spider's younger brother came looking for him. As if
that wasn't bad enough it was really hard to learn, at three in the morning, that
the potato bug wasn't in the wall, it was between the wall and my pillow. This
all happened in the same month.
Like Nate Wilson, I too have contemplated the spiders in my
shower. But these are so small, compared to the mammals I caught in the kitchen, that
I kind of enjoy watching their progress. I know that the bathroom is the last
room left to remodel. Their days are numbered, and that gives me comfort.
LEITHART ON BAPTISM
"So, who's confused, Calvin or Blomberg?" I'd have to say that I
am further confused. If 1 Cor. 12:13 is about water baptism, then what is
the baptism of the Spirit? After reading your article, I'm left with the
impression that water baptism and Spirit baptism are one in the same. But when I try
to answer certain questions about both baptisms, I come across
For instance, "Who is the one doing the baptism?" The disciples
are commanded to baptize (presumably with water) in Matt. 28 but John Baptist says that Jesus is the one who will baptize with the Spirit in Matt. 3.
"Into what medium are we baptized?" Acts 8:36 implies water (which
of course is why we are referring to it as "water baptism") while the 1 Cor.
12 passage seems to state explicitly that the medium of baptism with the Spirit is
the Spirit. Water baptism is commanded while I can find no similar
commands for baptism with the Spirit. In fact,
the aorist tense, passive voice, and indicative mood of the word baptized in
1 Cor 12:13 convinces me that we are "acted upon" and passive in
this process of "baptism with the Spirit" as opposed to participating in a sacrament, "water baptism," that we are
commanded to do.
"When does this baptism take place?" Water baptism occurs
when wetness has been achieved (smile), but baptism with the Spirit, which places
us into the body of Christ (and there is only One body
) must occur
at conversion/regeneration. If it didn't occur at
conversion/regeneration, wouldn't we have to contend with
two bodies (redeemed individuals who are not in the body of Christ because
they have not experienced this Spirit baptism, and redeemed individuals
If I am correct about these differences between water baptism
and baptism with the Spirit, then how can 1 Cor. 12:13 mean water baptism?
Sierra San Pedro
Leithart's article, "Baptism is Baptism, III" was muddled, and a
First, you ignored instances where baptism in the Holy Spirit
occurred either before or after water baptism (Acts 10:44-47, 19:2-6). This
raises the question: "Is God's covenant norm for baptism in the Holy Spirit
(thus application of saving grace) that of water baptism?" Catholics and
Orthodox would acknowledge God can still operate outside of the normative.
"The exception does not make the rule,"
one EFC pastor in Pullman used to say regarding sacred pneumotology.
But that can easily turn around to bite Anabaptists in the tush.
Calvin's quote on baptism's efficacy puts in question the
reformed soteriology from Eph. 2:8-9, where the gift of faith is simultaneously
the endued divine salvation. Yet for Calvin, faith precedes baptism: "Paul,
of course, is speaking about the baptism of believers. . ." However, if
"believers actually do receive the reality with
the sacrament," then what they must receive (by Paul's pairing) is salvation.
Second, you ignored statements regarding the "laying on of
hands" (Acts 8:17-20; 10:44-47; 11:15-16; 15:8; 19:2-6), an event either
skipped or not mentioned in Acts 2. It could be that water baptism is used as
the referent due not only to its clear covenant symbolism, but also
because the Apostles did not separate into parts the entire event. Unlike the
modern evangelical practice, upon initial expression of faith/repentance,
a person was immediately to be baptized and receive the laying on of hands.
The Apostles kept these together, and corrected the lack if needed
(Acts 19:2-6). So, baptism in the Holy Spirit can occur before during or after
water baptism. But the Apostolic norm may involve as the whole baptismal
process: repentance, baptism, laying on of hands. Scripture does not present
a definitive soteriology of the conversion event.
It's a provocative issue, considering all the baptized infants who later become fruitless sinners,
pagans, agnostics, or atheists. Biblically, this
can also bring into question the issue of eternal security on the basis of
the baptized exchanging their faith/salvation for sin or unbelief ( 1 Cor.
10, Heb. 6, etc.). Too, it raises the issue of restoring it with repentance
and ecclesiastical restoration of communion (Jas. 5:19-20). This depends on
how you choose to view such passages, and whether you see 1 Jn 2:19 as specific
to those antichrists, all similar antichrists, or any that leave the faith.
Heremeneutic principles and logic do not always
yield such clean and air-tight doctrine as we often pretend.
Finally, like all Calvinists, you reference Calvin for theological
back-up on the orthodoxy of salvific baptism (Calvin as infallible interpreter).
Your historical theology is severely truncated, and skipping 1500 years of
theological history. For traditional Christian churches, baptism is a sacrament (a
holy symbol by which is effected that which it symbolizes). But then Calvinists
don't want to start referencing folks who believed in transubstantiation,
traditional ecclesiology, and the like. You know, folks like Augustine. To what might
Peter Leithart replies: Mr. Soltys' criticisms assume the very distinction
my article challenged. Nowhere does the New Testament teach that
individuals experience a "baptism" of the
Spirit separate from water baptism. The "baptism of the Holy Spirit" is
Pentecost, and by the power of the Spirit water baptism effects entry into the
Spirit-filled body of Christ. Mr. Kirk hasn't
followed my argument, but at least he affirms my Calvinistic
bona fides. Not everyone does, and Mr. Kirk would do me
a service if he would forward his opinion to Greenville Theological Seminary,
Office of the Inquisition.
Back to top
Back to Table of Contents
Copyright © 2012 Credenda/Agenda. All rights reserved.