Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NECM and the Number of the Elect

Bob Mattes of Reformed Musings has posted another justification of Christian orthodoxy on Green Bagginses, which he titled “Reprobate in the Visible Church . . . Again.” And as is his custom, he states his proposition, presents biblical and confessional proofs for his proposition, and concludes his essay. In this instance, Bob addresses the Federal Visonists’ use of the phrase “non-elect covenant member” to substitute for the word “reprobate” and he establishes the FVists’ inconsistency with Reformed theology for over half a millennium, concluding:

Unless, of course, a handful of clever men in the later 20th and early 21st century have discovered what our learned forefathers have missed for 2000 years, including orthodox Reformed theologians for almost 500 years. But I don’t think so.

This got me to thinking. The first time and place the words “non-elect covenant member” appear is in the book Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros and Cons, in a chapter titled “Covenant and Election” by John Barach, who wrote, “Using our traditional theological language, we would say that these were non-elect members of the covenant.” Of course, Barach pulls a fast one here because, as Bob demonstrates, this is not “traditional theological language.” Far from it.

But the most striking thing about this is that Barach’s statement appears on page 154 of Auburn Avenue Theology. This is arresting because some church fathers held that the 153 fishes caught by St. Peter in the Gospel of John signify the fixed number of the elect: “Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, and hundred and fifty and three” (John 21:11). Obviously St. Peter used a covenantal net that represented the covenant, which means that the fish represent the elect — hence “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). So if you take the number representing the foreordained number of the elect (153) and add one (1), which signifies Barach, the Federal Vision, and all the other “non-elect covenant members,” we get 154, which is the page number where the Federal Visionists first floated the words NECM. The equation looks like this:

153 + 1 = 154.

But that’s not all. This principle of factoring the number one (1) to the elect works by subtraction as well. If you take the number of the twelve (12) disciples and subtract one (1) for Judas, who was never elect, you get eleven (11); and if you take the number of the twelve (12) and add one (1) for St. Paul and one (1) for St. James Jordan the Magnificent, you get fourteen (14), which is really the sum total of all the tribes of Israel. And if you multiply eleven (11) times fourteen (14) you get 154:

11 × 14 = 154

So it all adds up. The number of the elect is fixed and Scripture reveals that we can add the NECM to that number, as long as we subtract them in the end.

Thank you.


Towne said...

Your reply to Dr. White prompted me to read DW's little analogy. My take on it is that he is arguing BY analogy, which is always prone to the introduction of great error. I would argue that the use of analogies should always be restricted to illustration, not the proving of a point.

Mark T. said...

Which is essentially my point. They make up false analogies to fit their given scenario; I modify the analogy to fit it better.