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Responding to a concern that I misrepresented Greg Welty

I have been very busy as of late and was deployed to Korea for an exercise.  While there, a reader who is a friend of Greg Welty had concerns with my post A Critique of Greg Welty's Use of Galations in "From Circumcision to Baptism".  Here is the concern raised:

Greg had said in his paper: 

"What was the heresy of the Judaizers in the book of Galatians?

Fundamentally, their error was to contend that the command to circumcise was essential to the perpetuity of the Abrahamic Covenant and its promises and blessings. Thus, according to them, Gentile converts were required to be circumcised in order to be members of the family of God."

On Greg's view, central to the "promises and blessings" of the Abraham Covenant is *justification itself*. The error of the Judaizers was that you needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. As you rightly observed  "The error was trust in the Law. The error was a reliance upon the Law as a means of Justification." What he says is exactly what Greg believes.

Greg affirms that the Abrahamic Covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace, and is a redemptive covenant. And it's because he holds to classic covenant theology, that I stated things as I did.

His point in the material you cited was *not* to say that the error of the paedobaptist, in his view, was identical to the error of the Judaizer. He explicitly distinguished the two. In the very next paragraph (which you didn't cite), Greg wrote:

"While their error is usually not as serious as that of the Judaizers, the paedobaptist commits a similar error, by contending that the command to apply a covenant sign to one's children is essential to the perpetuity of the Abrahamic Covenant, and its promises and blessings."

The only reason he brought up the Judaizing error is to expose an *analogy* between it and the paedobaptist error. That's all. Also, that analogy bears little argumentative weight in his presentation. It's illustrative at best. My argument that the paedobaptist position is indeed an error is made on other grounds.

So, essentially, you seem to have latched onto an illustration as if it's an argument, but neither I nor Greg is sure you understood his illustration, since you seemed to impute a position to Greg that he does not hold, and that isn't entailed by what he wrote.  You might want to go back and revisit that particular entry.

First, let me state that I am not above reproach.  I carefully read what I wrote and I believe my criticism stands.  I criticized Mr. Welty on his exegesis of Galatians 3 and 4 and I believe that criticism is still valid.  My criticism at this point was not to suggest that it was material to his entire argument but his misappropriation of the "fundamental error" of the Judaizers is indicative of a larger error.

 If Mr. Welty had stated that their fundmental error was a reliance on the Law as a means of Justification then I would have no problem with the statement.  He zeroes in on the actual act of Circumcision, however, and then tries to attribute paedobaptism to a form of the Judaizing heresy, analogy or not.  I never said that Mr. Welty equated paedobaptism with the Judaizing heresy.  That he even put them in the same neighborhood is aggregious enough especially the way in which the analogy is formed.

I also, purposefully, did not deal with the portion where Mr. Welty merely calls the paedobaptist position a "similar error" (I wonder if the anathemas in Gal 1 are "similar").  Why?  Because he gets the Judaizing error wrong.  The Judaizers were not after a mere physical circumcision of the flesh.  To believe otherwise is to mis-read Paul's arguments.  They want the Galatians to take on the requirements of the Law as a means to Justification.  It was not "…the command to circumcise…" that was "…essential to the perpetuity of the Abrahamic Covenant and its promises and blessings…" as Mr. Welty insists.  The Judaizers expected far more than a mere circumcision of the flesh.  Their fundamental error was not even looking to the Abrahamic Covenant as I pointed out and am told that Mr. Welty agrees with.

So I'm left wondering:  If Mr. Welty agrees that it was a belief that Torah keeping=Justification then how does he go from that idea to the idea that the actual physical application of the covenant sign is what Paul has in view as the Judaizers fundamental error?  It's nice to hear from a friend that says that Mr. Welty understands the Judaizing heresy but, in his paper, he errs outright.

 I humbly submit, then, that my original critique be re-read to see that my focus was very specific:  the exegesis of Galatians 3-4 does not permit Mr. Welty to claim that the fundamental error of the Judaizers was that the command to circumcise was essential to the perpetuity of the Abrahamic Covenant.

While I bear no ill will toward either Mr. Welty or the person who asked me to reconsider, I cannot back off of this original critique. 

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