Host: Greg Koukl
Greg talks about child dedication, the miracle of Pentecost, and the responsibility of Christians.
- Is child dedication biblical or a churchism?
- Was the miracle of Pentecost one of speaking or one of hearing?
- What is the responsibility of Christians to the nation of Israel? The people? The land?
Melinda: Hey there. This is Melinda the Enforcer with the STRask podcast, and guess who we have sitting next to me this week? Greg Koukl.
Greg: Who’s that guy?
Melinda: I know. You’re gone so much lately.
Greg: I got in last night at seven at night after twenty-two hours of traveling from Norway, slept for six hours, got up this morning, and came to work.
Melinda: Then you’re leaving on vacation again.
Greg: Yeah, in four days, but I got a lot to do before I go. If I start babbling here you’ll know why.
Melinda: Old age finally kicked in.
Greg: No. It’s just, right now-
Melinda: It’s an eight hour, nine hour time change.
Greg: ...it’s about 11:30 at night for me right now.
Melinda: Yeah. Greg spent the weekend teaching in Norway.
Greg: It was more than a weekend though.
Melinda: No, that’s true.
Greg: I left on Tuesday and then I got there Wednesday and I landed there Wednesday afternoon and I started speaking Wednesday night. Then I had Thursday morning and then Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday morning, Sunday night and the came back, I want to say yesterday but it feels like it was three days ago.
Melinda: It wasn’t even twenty-four hours yet.
Greg: Anyway, nice to see you again.
Melinda: Nice to have you back.
Greg: Thank you. I’m leaving soon.
Melinda: Even if it’s temporarily. Sit still for a few minutes. We’ll do a podcast.
Greg: Yes ma’am.
Melinda: This is #STRask podcast, that’s how you send us your questions on twitter, use #STRask. Greg answers the questions, or whoever happens to be here this week, in four minutes or less. That’s the constant, me and the four minutes are the constants.
Greg: That’s right.
Melinda: For better or for worse. Let’s get going. This question comes from Shane_Ballard on Twitter. “Is child dedication biblical or a church-ism?”
Greg: All we have to demonstrate to show that it’s biblical is that it’s done in the Bible.
Melinda: I guess for the church to be doing it.
Greg: If it’s done in the Bible then, well, I guess it depends by what somebody means by biblical. Something can be described and something can be prescribed; that is, here’s a thing that happened that somebody did but that doesn’t mean we have to do it their way. That’s described. Prescribed means this is the way you’re supposed to do it. I do think that some things with regards to church, people get confused on that. They see something described in the Scripture and then they think that’s the way we’ve got to do the same thing. Nobody had any instruments in the New Testament church as far as we know so we can’t have them either in our church. I think that kind of approach is a mistake. I think they have the freedom to use instruments or not, but they’re not under compulsion because it’s not prescribed.
When we come to this particular issue of baby dedication we do have some examples in the Old Testament where children were dedicated. They seem to be positive examples. We’re not obliged to do that. Now that I think about it, we dedicated Annabeth, but we didn’t dedicate Eva. Maybe that explains some things now that I think-
Melinda: You haven’t even gotten her baptized yet either.
Greg: No. That’s right.
Melinda: Oh my gosh, that poor child.
Greg: I think a dedication is entirely appropriate. I do not think that baptism, water baptism, is appropriate, although there are Christian traditions that-
Melinda: For infants.
Greg: For infants, that’s right. Thank you for requesting the clarification, or making it. Water baptism for infants, because I think the New Testament connects baptism with a person’s actual regeneration, their own profession of faith in Christ, and should not be then offered to those who can’t do that. In fact that was kind of the altar call in the early church and since then, as far as I can tell until about the 1800s, there were no altar calls. People just asked to be baptized and that’s the way it’s been with our girls. We didn’t try to pray with them to receive Christ. We preach Christ to them. We live Christ with them. They know about baptism. When they ask to be baptized we can ask them more about why they want to be, and this gives them a chance to clarify their genuine trust in the Lord and that would make baptism for them appropriate I think.
I think, yeah, sure, dedicating kids is fine. We have biblical examples that are positive examples. We’re not obliged to do it, but some would rather do that with their children publicly to really dedicate themselves to the upbringing of the children in the Lord before the assembly, that dedication, instead of having a baptism.
Melinda: Part of the reason the kids, in the Lord, is being part of this body of Christ. They’re part of it too.
Melinda: Some would argue that we don’t see examples of child dedication in the New Testament. We see a lot of examples of baptizing, and sometimes households, which could include infants, but we see there’s a lot of baptizing going on in the New Testament so that takes the place of child dedication.
Greg: When the child is baptized.
Greg: Yeah. To me when it says households, to read in there that includes infants is to make a presumption that is not necessarily warranted, but then when there’s the detail about what baptism is and what it’s meant to represent, we see that it’s being tied, theologically, too a profession of faith in Christ. That’s why I come to the view that I do on that issue.
Melinda: In answer to this you would say child dedication is biblical, and it may not be prescribed, but it’s certainly a good practice.
Greg: Nothing wrong with it. It’s described in a positive way there. I think it’s better than child baptism. I actually noticed this just coming back from Norway. There was one individual I talked with, spent a lot of time with, that resisted, as an adult, being baptized, as an adult, having now made a profession of faith in Christ, because he had been baptized as a child and he didn’t want to get re-baptized. He didn’t think that was appropriate.
He did get baptized and I think that was the right thing to do, re-baptized I guess you could say, but the first one I wouldn’t really count. I think also a lot of people who get baptized as children think they’re already Christians since they got wet and that’s the end of that. I think could have a negative result as well.
Melinda: That’s more an argument against that person and their beliefs as opposed to infant baptism. It’s not the fact that they were baptized that gives them false hope, I think. It’s the way they’re being taught.
Greg: I think their sense is, and I think sometimes this is conveyed with the theology of infant baptism, that they are somehow now included with the covenant people. In their own mind, it may be they haven’t taken this far enough, clearly they haven’t, they figure they’re already Christians because they were baptized when they were kids, regardless of what they happen to believe right now.
Melinda: Yeah. I guess though it depends somewhat in which theological tradition they’re being raised. I know being raised Lutheran, being baptized as an infant wasn’t any kind of cart blanche of being always saved. Not that we’re going to debate this or anything, I just want to mention to give people a little insight into Stand To Reason, we have people on our staff with different views about baptism. STR doesn’t have a position on this. This is your view.
Greg: Right. We should play that disclaimer. The views expressed in this program are not necessarily the views of the sponsors. That’s a fair point.
Melinda: Right. I’m just saying this is one of those things that genuine Christians who have good theology disagree on this point. Okay. Going on. Next comes from Friar Gayland on Twitter. “Was the miracle of Pentecost one of speaking or one of hearing?”
Greg: This is a very good point because when you look at the text, and I did this just recently, I’ve read through this about two weeks ago, but right around that time I was also asking myself that question, looking at the passage. It said that everyone was hearing in their own language, and then has a list of the numbers of languages, people with their own unique languages, that was hearing in their own language
Melinda: Was it more than eleven?
Greg: Yes, taken as a whole it was. I never really weighed in officially.
Melinda: I heard you make this point years ago.
Greg: I did. I have made it before. What I mean is this isn’t like I’m making it-
Melinda: Official. Now you’re making it official.
Greg: No. I’ve said this is my opinion and I think this is the right take on it. I don’t really care that much about that issue. I think that this is certainly a legitimate way of looking at it, and I think I kind of lean that way at this point on that particular text.
Melinda: Because of the way it’s phrased.
Greg: Yeah. All of that. It says they were all hearing in their own language.
Melinda: Yeah, it’s an interesting, why would Luke write it that way if they were speaking all those languages as opposed to hearing them? It’s an interesting choice of words.
Greg: This doesn’t necessarily influence other-
Greg: I was just thinking of what the other passages say about tongues, say in First Corinthians et cetera, may or may not be influenced by what one understands is going on here. That might be a separate kind of issue, whatever, but this seems to be, I’d favor probably more so, that this seems to be a miracle of hearing and not so much a miracle of speaking. It’s hard to tell what they were saying and what was coming out of their mouth, but we know what was heard by the people because it does indicate that.
Melinda: I was also just thinking there’s more than eleven languages listed there. There were eleven Apostles at that point.
Greg: There were twelve.
Melinda: Twelve. That’s right. They had Matthias.
Greg: They had Matthias. Right.
Melinda: It could be that they each spoke in multiple languages at different times.
Greg: I guess so. It’s fair to try to figure out how to make sense of this.
Melinda: I’ve also wondered, if you had twelve people simultaneously speaking in different languages, that would be a pretty chaotic situation, so in a certain sense, even the hearing makes a little more sense there too.
Greg: Yeah. Let me just give the other side here. I’m only going to read the passage. This is Acts, chapter two, verse four and then following, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit would give them utterance.” The word tongues here, it sounds like, I think the word means other languages. I don’t know about the Greek there but I’ve heard people say that. There it’s emphasizing the speaking, and then it says, “Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven, and when this sound occurred the crowd,” I’m sure that’s an exaggeration for the sake of effect, but there’s a lot of nations that still could have been included, more than twelve, “When the sound occurred the crowd came together and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, are not all those who are speaking Galileans?”
It probably sounded to their ears like the Galileans were speaking that, “How is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we are born; Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia,” there’s ten right there, “Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, Rome, both Jews and Proslytes,” there’s fourteen, “Cretans, Arabs,” fifteen, sixteen. “We hear them in our our tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
People can draw their own conclusions from that, but that’s what it says.
Melinda: Next question comes from Dan on Twitter, “What is the responsibility of Christians to the nation of Israel, the people, the land?”
Greg: The answer to this is going to be determined by broader theological considerations. I personally think that God has made peculiar, unique promises to the nation of Israel that he did not make to Gentiles. I believe that God has one people in terms of salvation, but it just seems clear to me, in the Old Testament, and those that heard these promises understood it in that way, to be referring to those who are the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This means that the nation of Israel seems to have a role in future history and promises were made to Israel, by God, that have not been fulfilled yet. In the Abrahamic covenant of the first three verses of Genesis twelve, what God says there is he’d make a great nation and that “those who bless you I will bless and those who curse you I will curse.” I think that we have some obligation to be supportive of the nation of Israel, which doesn’t mean that we have to support every single thing they do. If they act unjustly, which I don’t think characteristically they do, we can speak to the injustice because even when Israel was unjust in the Old Testament God spoke against it and the prophets spoke against it.
I think that there is a special place for Israel in God’s economy as a nation. I think some time in the future, where Israel now characteristically does not believe in their Messiah, I think somewhere in the future there will come a generation where the nation, characteristically, will be believers in their Messiah. I think this is what Paul’s referring to in the later chapters of Romans. That would make me, but the way, a dispensationalist I think of some kind, because I acknowledge this distinction. Now I’m thinking, did I get the right word or did I get my-
Melinda: Yeah, you’re right.
Greg: ...theological terms mixed up. It a very basic concept but something I just...
Melinda: You’re a Calvinist, dispensational, charismatic. I’d say you’re a rare bird.
Greg: I wouldn’t call myself a Calvinist. I’d say I was reformed in my soteriology because Calvinism entails pretty much all, it’s like Lutheranism is Luther’s teaching, Calvinism is Calvin’s teaching. I’m dispensational. That’s like John MacArthur in that regard.
Melinda: Charismatic is not what John MacArthur is.
Greg: No. I don’t believe that there’s a good biblical argument to show that supernatural gifts have died away. That doesn’t mean that I promote them or advance them, but I am not a secessionist in that way. That would distinguish me from Dr. MacArthur, for sure.
Melinda: Had a whole conference against it.
Greg: That’s right. He did.
Melinda: I just can’t pin you down in a specific place can we? It’s because you just follow where the text goes.
Greg: I’m trying to make the best sense of it that I can, so sometimes I may seem like a weird bird there in some of these. I also am pre-millennial, but I don’t believe in a preacher of rapture either.
Melinda: You think Christians are going through the tribulation, right?
Greg: Yeah. Everybody agrees to that. There are people in the tribulation period that are Christians but some would-
Melinda: There’s not rapture getting some of us out of it.
Greg: Yeah, that’s right. They would say the church proper is taken away seven years before or something like that. Does that mean the Christians who are being martyred during the tribulation aren’t members of the church? That’s weird, but that seems to be what follows that view. Anyway, another issue.
Melinda: That’s a question somebody, if you want to ask a question about that, go to Twitter and use #STRask, That’s it for this episode folks. As I just said, give us your questions on Twitter, #STRask, the name of the podcast. We post two episodes a week, Monday and Thursday, sometimes when Greg is here, but every week there’s an episode. That’s it for this episode.
Greg: Bye bye.
Melinda: Bye bye.