Guest Post: No Communion and No Christ? Part 4

This is the fourth and final part of a guest post by Richard Barcellos. The previous installments can be found here, here, and here.

No Communion and No Christ?

 A response to two recent claims by Dr. R. Scott Clark:

  1. “In short, when we say communication we mean ‘communing.’ When the PBs say communication they seem to mean ‘the transmission of information.’”
  2. According to PBs, “God the Son is not actually present” prior to the incarnation.

Richard C. Barcellos

This is the final installment of my response to two recent claims offered by Dr. R. Scott Clark (found here).

In the “Conclusion” to Clark’s piece, he says:

When the Particular Baptists speak of the benefit of Christ being communicated, it seems as if they mean that a future reality was revealed to the Old Testament saints, which they anticipated but which was not actually present for them. (emphasis mine)

These claims were supported by Clark’s analysis of a brief section in one paragraph in 2LCF and some statements made by Coxe. Is Clark right? He views some of the Particular Baptists of the seventeenth century and some today as either explicitly (and intentionally) or implicitly (and unintentionally) denying that God the Son was actually present with his people prior to the incarnation. This denial is due to their seemingly intended meaning of the words “communication” or “communicated.” His claim is that, due to their distinct seemingly intended meaning of the words “communication” and “communicated,” some Particular Baptists effectively deny the presence of Christ with his people prior to the incarnation.

In my first installment, I offered and analyzed statements made by Benjamin Keach and Hanserd Knollys, both seventeenth-century Particular Baptists. It became very clear that by “communication” Keach meant “communing,” the conveyance of that which is promised—“Christ’s blessed merits” (Keach’s words). It also became clear that by “communion” Knollys meant communing, by virtue of the pre-incarnate Son of God conveying that which is promised, such that Solomon enjoyed “his beloved” (Knollys’ words)—Christ.

The last paragraph of the first installment reads as follows:

It is time to get to the specific focus of my reply to Clark. Did Nehemiah Coxe mean “the transmission of information” exclusively by the terms “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”? And did he teach, or does his view entail, that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation?

My second installment was an attempt to answer the first question stated above. The third installment sought to answer the second question. The answer to both questions was the same—no.

At the end of the third installment, I inserted the first paragraph of my conclusion. It is now time to present my conclusion in its entirety. It is relatively brief and dependent upon the previous installments. If you have not read all three of those, I highly recommend that you do so prior to reading the conclusion.

IV. Conclusion

Dr. Clark has made two claims: first, that by “communication” Nehemiah Coxe and other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists seem to have meant “the transmission of information” and second, due to the first claim, Coxe’s and other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists’ view entails that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation. The saints prior to the incarnation did not enjoy union and communion with our Lord. These two claims were the focus of my response. There were other issues I initially thought about discussing but decided it best to limit myself to these two claims by Clark.

In light of the evidence and comments provided above, I contend that Clark has misread Coxe and the 2LCF. He has also impugned (unwittingly) others from the seventeenth century, as well as some in our own day. Misreading and misunderstanding others is not some novelty of which we should be shocked. We have all done it and will, most likely, do it again. In saying that Clark has misread others, I am not suggesting he did this with any malice whatsoever. He did, however, make some claims that simply will not hold up against closer scrutiny. Nehemiah Coxe, other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists, the 2LCF, and at least some contemporary Particular Baptists do not mean by “communicated” “the transmission of information” without actual, real, vital union and communion with Christ, nor did or do they deny such prior to the incarnation of our Lord. As well, in good Protestant fashion, all of these believed and believe that the Mediator took up his work of mediation, according to his divine nature, prior to the incarnation, even upon the fall of man into sin. These points have been proven clearly and amply in the previous installments.

Clark’s claims need to be modified in light of the evidence I have provided, evidence that is lucid, plenteous, and available to all interested parties. Instead of what Clark claims, we can now confidently assert the following: first, in short, though it is true that when the Reformed say communication they seem to mean “communing,” it is not true that when some Particular Baptists say “communication” they seem to mean “the transmission of information” exclusively, specifically without actual, real, vital union and communion with Christ and second, according to some Particular Baptists, it is not true that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation. Both of Clark’s claims have been found abundantly wanting and, therefore, in need of chastening.

I hope my response to Dr. Clark aids all of us in our pursuit of truth and truthfulness among ourselves, especially when engaging other believers both past and present.

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: No Communion and No Christ? Part 4

  1. Thank you Dr. Barcellos for this series of informative and correctional posts. Some of the quotations by Coxe I found particularly edifying. Every blessing.

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