Companions in This Great Mediatorial Office

Similarities and Differences Between WCF and 2LCF on Christ’s Mediatorship

John Calvin, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, once stated that Christ our Mediator “unites (his) offices of king and pastor toward believers who voluntarily submit to him.”[1] In other words, Christ makes all of us into a priesthood of believers by virtue of His priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, Rev. 1:6). Calvin scholar Paul Wells has echoed this sentiment elsewhere by suggesting that, “Christ receives us at his side as his companions in this great mediatorial office.”[2] In light of this reality, I wish to argue that the Presbyterian and Particular Baptist traditions can be seen as companions from the same Reformed Family Tree, and yet the Particular Baptist tradition offers further texture to Christ’s mediatorial office. The Reformed tradition is a confessing tradition, meaning that Christians in the Reformed tradition are marked by a penchant for making and utilizing confessions in the life of the church.[3] Just as the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions have produced the First and Second Helvetic Confessions, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Belhar Confession, the Scots Confession, and the Westminster Confession,[4] the Particular Baptist tradition has produced the First London Confession of 1644 (and 1646), the Second London Confession (1677, 1689), the Philadelphia Confession of 1742, the Charleston Confession of 1767, and the New Hampshire Confession of 1833.

Aside from obvious differences in biblical interpretation on church polity and baptism, WCF and 2LCF share core Reformed theological principles, especially regarding the nature, role, and purpose of Christ’s Mediatorship. It is with this common backdrop in mind that we now transition to observing the immediate similarities and differences between Chapter 8 of Westminster’s and London’s statements on the Mediator. First, the similarities of both Confessions’ adherence to the pactum salutis shall be observed, along with the unique contribution Baptists made to the development of this doctrine. Secondly, the different historical pressures surrounding the identical statements of the Mediator’s humanity, priesthood, and the extra calvinisticum in both Confessions shall be mentioned. Lastly, the amendments on the necessity of the Mediator’s descent and the addition of chapters nine and ten to 2LCF stating our need for the ongoing mediatorial work of Christ will be addressed.

The Implicit and Explicit Pactum Salutis

The opening paragraph from WCF and 2LCF are similar in that they both adhere to the doctrine of the covenant of redemption, wherein God the Father appoints Christ the Son as covenant surety of the elect to redeem them through the temporal execution of the covenant of grace, and the Holy Spirit communicates the love of the Father and the Son in the atonement Christ achieves for us.[5] One Presbyterian theologian has described it as “a covenant the Father and the Son made before the foundations of the world to carry out the plan of redemption, or the installation of the Son’s office as the Mediator.”[6] As Joel Beeke says, “Christ’s mediatorial kingdom was given to Him according to the terms of the eternal covenant of redemption.”[7] Chapter 8, Paragraph 1 of WCF states that “It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man; the Prophet, Priest, and King.”[8] A.A. Hodge, in his commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, states that Christ “received a divine appointment to be Mediator between God and man,” by means of “the covenant of grace that God formed from eternity with his Son.”[9] Although Westminster never specifically names this calling, ordination, or divine choice of the Father as a pre-temporal covenant, Hodge doesn’t hesitate to make explicit what was implicit in Westminster, particularly that the covenant of grace began its first phase in eternity, and the second phase was initiated at the beginning of Christ’s incarnation. This seems clear by WCF 8:3’s statements that Christ’s mediatorial office was one which He was “called by His Father, who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.”

The first paragraph of the Second London Confession’s eighth chapter slightly differs from Westminster’s by further specifying what the Father’s eternal purpose was. It adds the following phrase “according to the covenant made between them both,” after “Son.”[10] Perhaps there are two possible reasons why 2LCF makes this addition. First, it is worth noting that the 1LCF44 states in article ten that Christ’s mediatorial office was a result of the “everlasting covenant of grace (made) between God and man,” so that Christ could “perfectly and fully (be) the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church of God forevermore.”[11] Again in 1LCF44, article twelve states that God the Father “ordained His Son to this (mediatorial) office,” by means of a “special covenant” that had been made before eternity. In the 1646 revision of the 1LCF, which was motivated by the direct charges of Daniel Featley, who was a member of the Westminster Assembly,[12] article twelve states, “Concerning His mediatorship…He that is called of God as was Aaron, it being an action of God, whereby a special promise being made, He ordains His Son to this office.”[13] 1LF46 altered the word “covenant” to “promise,” but we shouldn’t be concerned with this alteration making a significant difference, since these terms were used synonymously within conversations pertaining to the pactum salutis in the 17th century.[14]

Secondly, when the seven Particular Baptist Churches of London drew up the 1LCF in 1644, they relied on an English separatist confession entitled, A True Confession, which was drafted in 1596. It was composed of forty-five articles that resembled Puritan Calvinism and early congregational principles.[15] In this confession, article ten states concerning the mediatorial office of Christ, “That touching his Office, he only is made the Mediator of the New Testament, even of the everlasting Covenant of grace between God & man, to be perfectly & fully the Prophet, Priest, & King of the Church of God for evermore.”[16] Interesting enough, we find this exact phrasing in article ten of both 1LCF44 and 1LCF46, which states Christ’s mediatorship to be founded in “the new and everlasting covenant of grace.”[17] From what can be observed, it seems that the signatories of the 2LCF chose to make this alteration to paragraph one because of the language that was already present in their own tradition and among the early Congregationalists, who had made this same alteration to WCF in the Savoy Declaration in 1658.

The Baptist Defection of Thomas Collier

The fact is often ignored that Confession writing didn’t occur in an ahistorical vacuum, rather Confessions were usually written for a specific occasion. Robert Leith, in his Introduction to the Reformed Tradition, puts this reality best:

The earliest Reformed confessions were theses for debate or defenses of the faith…They were written not in the context of a religious and theological revival, but in an established church with internal debates and external controversies not only with Roman Catholics but also with other Protestant churches.[18]

Oliver Crisp has also shared similar sentiments, “the writing of confessions is an ongoing task…The gospel once committed to the saints needs new expression in different contexts and new generations.”[19] In other words, although the WCF and 2LCF often share identical statements, it is important to remember that they do not share the same historical pressures. The signatories of both Confessions each faced unique challenges and responses that, although they may at times share verbatim statements, cannot be simply dismissed as “copying and pasting” one another. Each theological tradition has a unique history and an indigenous expression to that tradition’s historical moment. While the Presbyterians were drafting chapters two and three of WCF to address the concerns of Anabaptist Christology, the Particular Baptists tackled unique challenges in the development of the 2LCF, most notably the defection of the Particular Baptist pastor, Thomas Collier.

Thomas Collier, who had been highly influential in the theological development of the Christ’s mediatorial office post 1LCF44, penned a work entitled, The Exaltation of Christ in the Dayes of the Gospel: As the alone High Priest, Prophet, and King of Saints.[20] Collier was perhaps the only Baptist to write an in-depth treatise on the munus triplex, and his work was utilized to shape the congregational conviction among Baptists that Christ exercises His kingship through His rule and reign among the saints, by which He has granted them the keys spoken of in Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 to the church with its eldership.[21] Unfortunately, his career took a turn toward the latter part of his life, where he was first accused of Christological heresy by Nehemiah Coxe.[22]

Collier began to use modalist language to describe the nature of God. In his First General Epistle to the Saints, he states that God is in the Son not by means of essential union, but in the same way he is in things which are not himself, as he is in the saints.[23] This, unfortunately, denies the eternal relations of origin between the members of the Trinity and collapses the Creator/creature distinction between the Son and the rest of humanity. In addition to this, Collier began to advocate for the Anabaptist doctrine of the celestial flesh of Christ, wherein Christ brought his own body or flesh with him from heaven,[24] believing the Son’s human nature to be eternal.[25] This was due to a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the communication of attributes. Although Scripture states that Christ is “the Son of Man who descended from heaven,” and “the man of heaven,” (John 3:13, 1 Cor. 15:47), Christ was not incarnate until a particular point in time (John 1:14). The 2LCF is also clear on mentioning this issue pertaining to the work of Christ’s mediation, and the Second person’s ability to act according to both natures. It utilizes the doctrine of the extra calvinisticum to state that Christ can act according to the divine nature when it wouldn’t make sense, for instance, for the divine nature to shed blood on the cross in Acts 20:28. Chapter 8.7 states, “Each nature does that which is proper to itself…that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.” Baptist theologian Lucas Stamps fairly suggests the overall impetus behind writing the Second London Confession was Collier’s doctrinal drift, and that “Particular Baptist leaders Nehemiah Coxe and William Collins were largely responsible for penning the 2LCF confession as a response to this controversy.”[26]

Both the 2LCF and WCF utilized explicit language from the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, in addition to the ecumenical council’s decision on the Chalcedonian definition in 8:2’s statements on the nature of the incarnation.[27] We’re told that the “Son took upon Himself man’s nature when the fullness of time had come,”[28] which was an exact response to Menno Simons, the founder of the Mennonites, who said that “the Word became flesh, but did not take flesh,” and that our incarnate Lord “did not become the flesh of Mary, but in Mary.[29] It seems that the Anabaptists, Thomas Collier, and even the General Baptist Matthew Caffyn, who thought that “the Son of God brought his human flesh from heaven and simply passed ‘through the Virgin’s Womb as Water through a Conduit,’”[30] held to this theology of Christ’s assumption because they wanted to safeguard Christ’s impeccability and sinlessness rather than suggesting he assumed a post-fallen human nature.[31] The Particular Baptists responded to this Christological issue by stating that Christ assumed man’s nature, “with all the essential properties and common infirmities of it, yet without sin.” In other words, this means that sin is not “an essential property” to a human nature. In fact, the Christian tradition has historically seen original sin as an accidental property, for if it were a substance, then God would be the author of evil.[32] The Orthodox Christian tradition states that Christ assumed Mary’s humanity, and all the common infirmities of it, yet without sin. This means that Christ can assume an unfallen human nature while also assuming defects, such as infirmities and human frailties. The WCF and 2LCF both make use of Chalcedon’s language to describe the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ as being “without separation, conversion, composition, or confusion.”[33] Both Confessions hold to the one holy, apostolic, and catholic doctrine of the historic church, while also responding to both Anabaptist concerns and immediate defections within the Particular and General Baptist context.

An Amendment on the Descent of Christ

Christ’s active and passive obedience is described in chapter four of WCF and 2LCF as touching the priestly function of His mediatorial office. As John Calvin states in Inst. 2.16.5:

Now someone asks, how has Christ abolished sin, banished the separation between us and God, and acquired righteousness to render God favorable and kindly toward us? To this we can in general reply that he has achieved this for us by the whole course of his obedience…In short, from the time when he took on the form of a servant, he began to pay the price of liberation in order to redeem us.[34]

Calvin, the Westminster Divines, and the signatories of the 2LCF all saw it necessary to discuss “the whole course of Christ’s obedience,” from the time of Christ’s conception all the way to His ascension. One aspect of the Mediator’s role and His efficacious redemption revolves around understanding the descent of Christ as part of the incarnate mission of the Son, or as 8.4 of WCF and 2LCF puts it, “the purpose to which the Mediator discharged his mediatorial office”. As Baptist theologian Lucas Stamps has said, “Christ’s active and passive obedience…should never have been seen as separable parts in his work of redemption. Instead, they should be seen as aspects of an integrated whole.”[35]

However, the task is challenging when it comes to tracing a “Reformed” view on the descent of Christ, for the Reformed tradition has proven to be multi-variegated when it comes to understanding the Christological statement from the Apostles’ Creed “I believe…he descended into hell.”[36] Chapter 8:4 of the Westminster Confession states Christ the Mediator’s sufferings and humiliation in the following way:

This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which, that He might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul, and most painful sufferings in His body; was crucified and died; was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption.[37]

This clause follows the metaphorical interpretation of the descent, which began with John Calvin. It understands Christ’s “descent into hell” to occur specifically at the crucifixion, wherein Christ experienced grievous torments and hellish pangs in his soul.[38] After Christ’s death, his body remained “under the power of death.” The Belgic Confession states that at Christ’s death, the hypostatic union of the divine and human nature were not separated, but “what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave.”[39] The Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 50 also states that “Christ’s humiliation after his death, consisteth in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day.”[40]

One notable difference that must be observed is the slight alteration the Particular Baptists made to 8:4. Although WCF and Savoy Declaration use the phrase “under the power of death,” the signatories of the 2LCF replaced this phrase with “remained in the state of the dead.”[41]  It is possible to suggest that due to the different views on Christ’s descent among the Particular Baptists, such as Charles Marie du Veil (1630-1686) holding to a literal descent into Hades and John Gill holding to a metaphorical descent, the Baptists sought to keep the language open to suggest that Christ could either have remained in the state of the dead 1) in his buried body, or 2) in his soul departed to Sheol/Hades, the realm of the dead. As Samuel Renihan states, “The question remains, though, whether the language that was chosen and approved for the (2LCF) was intended to accommodate the various views mentioned by Featley…but it is difficult to say.”[42] Just as Reformed theologians Peter Martyr Vergmigli, Girolamo Zanchius, Heinrich Bullinger and Wolfgang Musculus held to a literal perspective of the descent, the opinion was also widespread among the Baptists. Unlike the Dutch Reformed and Presbyterian Confessions, the Baptists didn’t lean towards a “primary” Reformed view[43] in their articulations of the doctrine, but instead sought unity and catholicity in orthodox expressions of the doctrine that wouldn’t divide the Baptist cause.

An Alternate Ending: The Addition of Paragraphs Nine and Ten

Lastly, we arrive at the most noticeable difference between WCF and the 2LCF. Both Westminster and Savoy conclude the eighth chapter on the mediatorial office of Christ with an eighth paragraph, whereas the Particular Baptists saw the need to insert two additional paragraphs. Why? What purpose does this accomplish? Just as it was briefly mentioned that the Baptists utilized language already present in their own tradition, while also retrieving theological statements among their similar-minded congregationalist forerunners, there is a similar impulse behind the inclusion of these two paragraphs. Let us briefly examine the ninth paragraph’s history.

This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from Him to any other.[44]

The 2LCF was not the first document to contain this article, but rather this was taken from article twelve of The True Confession of 1596, the first Congregational and Separatist confession in England.[45] This same article was used in article thirteen of the 1LCF44 and 1LCF46, and since this article was already in the Particular Baptist tradition, why should there be a need to exclude it, especially if it has buttressed the political and theological cause of similar churches in the past?[46] Secondly, this article is addressing the problem of insufficient mediators within Roman Catholic theology. The doctrine of the intercession of the saints teaches that the ministry of the saints continues after their departure from this earth, and that they may participate in the work of restoring humanity to grace through prayer.[47] In fact, the Virgin Mary continues to be recognized as the “mediatress of all graces” today within Roman Catholicism because of her role as the co-redemptrix.[48] This article from the 2LCF responds to the theology that would have been prevalent among Catholics in the 17th century, and addresses the rightful source of mediation for prayer and salvation to be in Christ, and Christ alone (1 Tim. 2:5).

Paragraph ten’s addition also played a key role previously within the Particular Baptist tradition. Unlike paragraph nine, which was borrowed by the first congregationalist separatists in England, paragraph ten is indigenous to the Particular Baptists as a whole. The theological ideas are inspired from sections in William Ames’s Marrow of Sacred Divinity, but the 1LCF and 2LCF are the only Confessions to state the necessity of Christ’s threefold office, and our need for the ongoing mediatorial work of Christ. Paragraph 10 reads:

This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of His prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us as acceptable unto God; and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserver us to His heavenly kingdom.[49]

Here, all Particular Baptist churches are reminded that Christ, our Great Prophet, Teacher, Hermeneute, and Exegete has provided a gracious solution to our ignorance. He continues to teach us from heaven by means of his ministers and through the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:27, 24:44-47, John 16:12-15, 2 Cor. 5:20).[50] Our Great High Priest continues to reconcile sinners and intercede on their behalf in the presence of God, and our King continues to providentially uphold the universe by the word of His power, while also safely leading the saints to His heavenly kingdom as our divine warrior, subduing all our spiritual enemies (Ex. 14:14, Phil. 1:6, Heb. 1:3, 4:14-16, 9:15-28, 2 Tim. 2:12, 1 Pet. 1:4-5). When the signatories of 2LCF drafted these truths, they were passing on the tradition that they had received from the first generation of the Particular Baptists that had lived on before them. Likewise, Baptists today of every stripe and color, across the world, would do well to continue to retrieve and adapt the truths of the Confession to their unique context with their unique challenges.[51]

Conclusion

Much more could be said about the heritage of the Westminster Confession and the Second London Confession, and many questions are left untouched, such as why didn’t the 2LCF retain article ten of 1LCF44 and 1LCF46, which clearly states that Christ’s mediatorial office will perpetuate into the new creation? Nonetheless, we can conclude that the Particular Baptists emphasized the covenant of redemption more explicitly than their Presbyterian contemporaries, maintained Orthodox Christology in the midst of internal conflict, sought unity over differing understandings of Christ’s descent, and carried on their unique tradition’s expressions about the nature and necessity of Christ’s unique mediatorial office. May we likewise continue to carry on their legacy within our cultural context while giving honor to our Semper Mediator,[52] now and forevermore.


[1] Calvin, Inst. 2.15.5

[2] Paul Wells, “Person and Work of Christ” in John Calvin:For a New Reformation, ed. By Derek Thomas and John W. Tweeddale. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019): 365, cf. Inst. 2.15.6

[3] Oliver Crisp, Saving Calvinism: Expanding the Reformed Tradition, pp. 29. Robert H. Leith, in his Introduction to the Reformed Tradition, states that “The first distinguishing feature of the Reformed confessions is their number and variety. Unlike the Lutheran confessions, written for the most part in a period of eight years by Melancthon and Martin Luther in one geographical area, the Reformed confessions were written by many different people in a great variety of places and time.” 133-134. See also P.J. Naudé’s “Why is a Multiplicity of Confessions Particular to the Reformed Tradition?” in Acta Theologica, 2014 Suppl. 20:35-48

[4] I haven’t included the catechisms represented within the Reformed tradition, but Baptists also have Keach’s Catechism and An Orthodox Catechism of 1680 by Hercules Collins.

[5] Thomas Goodwin, one of the Congregationalist signatories of the Savoy Declaration, describes the role of the Holy Spirit in the Triune operations of the covenant of redemption in his work Of Christ the Mediator. “The other two persons have other distinct offices in the work of reconciliation. The Son transacts the part of a mediator, as the person by whom reconciliation is to be performed, and the Holy Ghost, he is to make report of that peace an atonement made, and shed abroad the love of both [the Father and the Son]. Rom. 5:5 ‘And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.’”  The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Vol. V: Of Christ the Mediator, ed. Thomas Smith. (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1863), 8. The doctrine of the pactum salutis has usually been critiqued for lacking a role for the Holy Spirit. For more on this topic, see “The Holy Spirit’s Role in John Owen’s ‘Covenant of the Mediator’ Formulation: A Case Study in Reformed Orthodox Formulations of the Pactum Salutis,” by Laurence R. O’Donnell III. PRJ 4, 1 (2012): 91-115, and Woo B. Soon’s The Promise of the Trinity: The Covenant of Redemption in the Theologies of Witsius, Owen, Dickson, Goodwin, and Cocceius. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018).

[6] J.V. Fesko, The Covenant of Redemption: Origins, Development, and Reception (Bristol, CT: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht LLC, 2016), 15.

[7] Joel R, Beeke and Mark Jones. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 357

[8] “The Westminster Confession of Faith,” in https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/westminster-confession-faith, accessed 4/15/22.

[9] A.A. Hodge, A Commentary on the Confession of Faith (London, UK: T. Nelson and Sons, Paternoster Row, 1870), 133.

[10] Thomas J. Nettles, “Christ as Mediator: The Offices of Christ,” in TGC Essays https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/christ-mediator-offices/, accessed 4/15/22.

[11] The Confession of Faith, of those Churches which are commonly (though falsly) called Anabaptists(London:n.p., 1644).

[12] James M. Renihan, The Vindication of the Truth: A Brief Exposition of the First London Baptist Confession of Faith (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2021) pp. 9

[13] A Confession of Faith of Seven Churches of Christ in London, which are commonly (but unjustly) called Anabaptists (London: Matth. Simmons, 1646).

[14] James M. Renihan, The Vindication of the Truth, pp. 63-64.

[15] William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1980), 81.

[16] William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, 85. I have taken the liberty to update the archaic spelling of the original document’s English into modern-day characters and spelling.

[17] James M. Renihan, The Vindication of the Truth, 59. See also Ian Birch, To Follow the Lambe Wheresoever He Goeth: The Ecclesial Polity of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1640-1660 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017), 74. He has suggested that five of the articles from A True Confession regarding the threefold office of Christ was derived from material in William Ames’ Marrow of Sacred Divinity. He claims that the Particular Baptists inserted Ames’ material verbatim into the London Confession.

[18] John H. Leith, Introduction to the Reformed Tradition, 134-135.

[19] Oliver Crisp, Saving Calvinism, 155.

[20] Ian Birch, To Follow the Lambe Wheresoever He Goeth, 77-78.

[21] Ian Birch, To Follow the Lambe Wheresoever He Goeth, 83, 92.

[22] Ian Birch, To Follow the Lambe Wheresoever He Goeth, 77n71.

[23] Ian Birch, To Follow the Lambe Wheresoever He Goeth, 77n71.

[24] George H. Williams, The Radical Reformation, (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1962), 325.

[25] R. Lucas Stamps, “Baptists, Classic Christology, and the Christian Tradition,” in Baptists and the Christian Tradition: Towards an Evangelical Baptist Catholicity, edited by Matthew Y. Emerson, Christopher W. Morgan, and R. Lucas Stamps (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2020), 100.

[26] R. Lucas Stamps, Baptists and the Christian Tradition, 100.

[27] R. Lucas Stamps, Baptists and the Christian Tradition, 101.

[28] “The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith,” in https://www.the1689confession.com/1689/chapter-8, accessed 4/25/22.

[29] George H. Williams, The Radical Reformation, 395.

[30] R. Lucas Stamps, Baptists and the Christian Tradition, 93, cf. Matthew Caffyn, “A Brief Declaration of Faith,” in Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, 225.

[31] George Williams suggests that “the doctrine of the celestial flesh of Christ (was held) among the Radical Reformers…to account for the postulated sinlessness of Christ and also his divine incapability of sinning.” The Radical Reformation, 326-327. This is evident from Menno Simons suggestion that “Christ Jesus, as to his origin, is no earthly man, that is, a fruit of the flesh and blood of Adam. He is a heavenly fruit or man. For his beginning or origin is of the Father [John 16:28] like unto the first Adam, sin excepted.” The Radical Reformation, 395. For more on this topic, see also Oliver Crisp’s “Did Christ Have a Fallen Human Nature?” in ISTJ Vol. 6, No. 3, 2004, 270-288, Lucas Stamps “Did Jesus Ever Get Sick? Some Thoughts on Christ’s Human Nature,” in CTR 13/1 (Fall 2015): 63-76, Thomas G. Weinandy’s In the Likeness of Sinful Flesh: An Essay on the Humanity of Christ, (New York, NY: T&T Clark, 2006) and Rafeal Bello Sinless Flesh: A Critique of Karl Barth’s Fallen Christ (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020).

[32] See Article XIX of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession, “Of the Cause of Sin,” which states that, “Of the Cause of Sin they teach that, although God does create and preserve nature, yet the cause of sin is the will of the wicked, that is, of the devil and ungodly men; which will, unaided by God, turns itself from God, as Christ says in John 8:44: When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own.” https://bookofconcord.org/augsburg-confession/cause-of-sin/, accessed 4/25/22. See also Thomas McCall’s Against God and Nature: The Doctrine of Sin (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019).

[33] R. Lucas Stamps, Baptists and the Christian Tradition, 102.

[34] Calvin, Institutes 2.16.5.

[35] R. Lucas Stamps, “Atonement in Gethsemane: The Necessity of Dyothelitism for the Atonement,” in Locating Atonement: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics, ed. Oliver D. Crisp and Fred Sanders (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2015), 136.

[36] “Apostles’ Creed” in Our Faith: Ecumenical Creeds, Reformed Confessions, and Other Resources (Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013), 13.

[37] “The Westminster Confession of Faith,” in https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/westminster-confession-faith, accessed 4/26/22.

[38] Matthew Y. Emerson, “He Descended to the Dead” An Evangelical Theology of Holy Saturday (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019), 92.

[39] “The Belgic Confession” in Our Faith, 43

[40] “Westminster Larger Catechism,” in https://opc.org/lc.html, accessed 4/24/22.

[41] Samuel D. Renihan, Crux, Mors, Inferi: A Primer and Reader on the Descent of Christ, (CreateSpace: Amazon, 2021), 117.

[42] Samuel D. Renihan, Crux, Mors, Inferi, 117. For more on Daniel Featley’s speech on this debate at the Westminster Assebly, see Daniel R. Hyde’s In Defense of the Descent: A Response to Contemporary Critics (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 19-21 and also Chad B. Van Dixhoorn’s “Reforming the Reformation: Theological Debate at the Westminster Assebly 1643-1652,” 7 vols. (Ph.D. dissertation; Selwyn College, Cambridge University, 2004), 1:215-232.

[43] See chapter four “Explaining the Reformed View” in Daniel R. Hyde’s, In Defense of the Descent, 51-64. Italics for emphasis.

[44] “The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith,” in https://www.the1689confession.com/1689/chapter-8, accessed 4/26/22.

[45] William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, 85.

[46] On another note, I wonder why the 2LCF excludes article ten of 1LCF44 and 1LCF46’s statement that “Jesus Christ is made the Mediator of the new and everlasting covenant of grace between God and man, ever to be perfectly and fully the prophet, priest, and king of the Church of God forevermore.” This statement is crucial in that it suggests the mediatorial office of Christ shall never end but will perpetuate into the new creation (Heb. 7:24). Elsewhere in the Reformed Tradition, Thomas Goodwin and Herman Bavinck have described Christ to be “the Mediator of Union.” When Christ assumed flesh, the hypostatic union is itself an act of mediation, and for Christ to be considered a mediator of the Church of God “forevermore” means that this hypostatic union shall never dissolve. For more on this, see my The Everlasting Mediation of the Son of God: A Case Study of the EnduringMediatorial Office of Christ in Calvin and the Reformed Tradition (Master’s Thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2020, ProQuest LLC, 27959965), 83-84, 96-100.

[47] James M. Renihan, For the Vindication of the Truth, 65.

[48] See Rev. Michael O’Carroll, Mediatress of All Graces, (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1958), Raphael V. O’Connell’s Our Lady: Mediatrix of All Graces (Baltimore, MD: Metropolitan Press, 1926) and Fr. Emile Neubert’s Mary and the Priestly Ministry (New Bedford, MA: Acadamy of the Immaculate, 2009). By a simple perusal through the Table of Contents in Neubert’s book, Mary is referred to as an “Associate of Christ-Priest” and her ongoing ministry forms priests as other Christ-Priests. Other Catholic literature refers to Mary as the “Our Lady of Divine Providence.”

[49] “The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith,” in https://www.the1689confession.com/1689/chapter-8, accessed 4/26/22.

[50] Louis Berkhof describes the continuity of Christ’s prophetical office in the following way: “And after the incarnation He carries on His prophetical work in His teachings and miracles, in the preaching of the apostles and of the ministers of the Word, and also in the illumination and instruction of believers as the indwelling Spirit. He continues His prophetical activity from heaven through the operation of the Holy Spirit.” Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972), 359.

[51] To borrow from John Leith, “every generation must therefore test the tradition or traditions to see how clearly they represent God’s grace and action in Jesus Christ to the life of faith and obedience today.” Baptists would do well to participate in that same call for their confessional heritage. John Leith, An Introduction to the Reformed Tradition, 31.

[52] Jerome Zanchi (1516-1590), in his De Incarnatione Dei, stated that Christ was a Semper Mediator, or always a Mediator.

Author

  • Aaron Pendergrass

    Aaron Pendergrass (MA, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is an Associate Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Greeley, Colorado. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Youth Ministries. He was formerly a graduate assistant of James Arcadi’s in the fields of Analytic and Systematic Theology. His research interests include the munus triplex, Christology, providence, Calvin, and Reformed Theology.  As of July 2021, he is happily married to his beloved wife Yasmin.

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