by Peter Ditzel
The next day, 10/31/2007, I received a reply from Dr. Ella. The subject line was, “Dud squibs are useless ammunition.” On 11/2/2007, I replied to Dr. Ella. I did so by commenting between the lines of his original email. The following contains the full text of his original email plus the full text of my response. Dr. Ella’s words are in blue, mine are in red.
Dear Dr. Ella,
I am responding to your email by writing my comments in red between your paragraphs.
You certainly have an axe to grind the bluntness of which is clearly evident. So, too, your unfounded, emotive arguments are clear proof that a blunt axe, in the wrong hands, can be a more harmful weapon than a well-trimmed axe in the hands of a professional.
I am sorry that, instead of addressing the concerns I brought out, you have chosen to do just what you accuse me of. It is the person who begins an attack who has an axe to grind. I did not start this attack. It is you who have, in this email, given nothing but emotive, unfounded arguments.
Yours is the kind of argument I hear often from NCT tyros. Full of wild speculations and accusations as to the position of their opponents, believing that a strategy of bluff, bluster, misrepresentations and an entire lack of analytical acumen will win their wars for them. Such tactics proclaim surrender and defeat on the untrained recruit’s side before the battle has started.
This paragraph says nothing. It is itself nothing but wild speculations and accusations, bluff, bluster, and misrepresentations.
The bulk of your scatter-bombs are of the boomerang type. You accuse me of not having read the NCT strategy books I have studied for years and not having corresponded with the leading NCT Generals in order to arrange a Peace Treaty. Obviously you have not done this yourself as you would not launch into such sabre-rattling manoeuvres. I am fully conversant with the plans of your rebel forces and have had lengthy correspondence with your military experts, including Commander John Reisinger, with whom I have been discussing treaty management for some time. He owes me a dispatch but I have not given up hope of a continued correspondence.
Here you continue with your emotive language, speaking of scatter-bombs, NCT Generals, Peace Treaties, sabre-rattling, rebel forces, military experts, and Commander John Reisinger. Is this any way to settle a theological question? I did not make an accusation against you of not reading the books or not contacting the NCT writers. I said I wondered because your evaluation of them and mine are at times very much at odds. If, by saying, “Obviously you have not done this yourself,” you mean that I have not read the books, you have made a direct and false accusation against me. As far as contact with the “leading NCT Generals,” by whom I assume you mean NCT writers, I have no axe to grind with them and therefore do not need to grill them. Nevertheless, I have had some casual contact with them over the years.
That a rebel force should count the costs of their warfare and know their enemy goes without saying but you, Private Peter, must realise that before you can know the enemy, you must know yourself. If you cannot see the Dispensationalism in your own NCT strategy, although you yourself partition the terrain you hope to conquer into such zones, then whoever gives you the two-edged Sword of the Spirit must realise that you will use it to your own destruction. Innocence may be bliss but naivety in warfare is certain suicide.
Again, this paragraph is full of emotive, warlike language and says almost nothing. I suppose that by calling me “Private Peter” you either mean to throw me off guard with an insult or to imply that I am under the command of “Commander Reisinger.” I am neither thrown off guard nor am I under the command of anyone but my Lord Jesus Christ, in which case I do not put myself even at the rank of a private. For your information, so that you do not mistakenly put me into anyone’s army, I will tell you that I came to understand what I believe about the covenants, law and Gospel, etc., independent of anyone else. It was only after I mentioned my convictions to a friend that he said I might like to read John Reisinger’s books. Before that, I had never heard of him or any of the NCT writers. As I read their books, I see some that I agree with and some that I do not. But I have never felt that I had to publicly attack their character, intelligence, or Christianity over our disagreements.
As far as your charge of Dispensationalism, I must ask what your esoteric definition of Dispensationalism is, because my beliefs certainly do not fit into the standard definitions of that theological system. For example, I do not believe in the necessity of a physical fulfillment of God’s OT promises to Israel. I do believe that everything God did intend for national Israel He fulfilled (Joshua 23:15), I do not believe in a future for national Israel, I believe that the church is the true Israel of God, I am amillennial. Yes, I believe in a distinction of the covenants because the Bible clearly teaches this, but Dispensationalism goes beyond what the Bible teaches. Your colorful language in the rest of this paragraph sounds like something from Alice in Wonderland and adds no further information.
To claim that I started the defence of orthodoxy by wild shooting is a doubly strategic mistake on your part. Orthodoxy has been revealing NCT error long before it denounced Marcion and every Christian soldier worth his wage has his sights focused accurately on the NCT: not to kill them but to rescue them from themselves and de-traumatise them. NCT wild-fire such as your own is merely practicing on Aunt Sallies. However, the numerous shots that miss their mark and harm innocents standing by are all ammunition for those who are bound to defeat you.
Again, this is empty propaganda. By the way, why do you speak of “every Christian soldier worth his wage”? All we have earned is death and hell. Remember Romans 6:23?
I must deplore the falseness in your pleads for a parley. You express your brotherly desire for peace but spoil it by false propaganda, claiming that my side would not give you a hearing. Your spies have informed you falsely. You claim that change is at the core of your rebellion. Let us hope you are willing to change back to honest Christian warfare.
You presume to judge my heart. But the Bible teaches that we are not supposed to do that. God is my witness that my desire for peace is genuine and your accusation is false. I still desire peace, but on the condition that you stop your false accusations and empty rhetoric. What do you mean by, “Your spies have informed you falsely”? This simply has no basis in reality.
I have read your propaganda flyer concerning your basic grounds for a peace treaty but find you merely whitewash the grave stones of your fallen ones. My articles have shown, I trust, the fallacy of your stated objectives and nowhere have you defined the true teaching of NCT on law, gospel, church, covenant and all the other major doctrines. It does not suffice to ignore what we are saying but you must face our arguments without hiding your head in the sand. That has always been the weakest form of camouflage. Having said that, if you would care to read my statement of strategy in NF, you will see how far even your Sunday-best presentation is from the pan-Biblical gospel.
Again, this is more emotive rhetoric. What propaganda flyer? In my email, I listed the distinctive and core features of NCT. Yet you say that nowhere have I defined the true teaching of NCT. I suppose I must take this as an accusation that I am a liar. Are you the one who determines what the true teachings of NCT are?
Obviously you are not aware of the teaching of the Particular Baptists whose paths you have left. None of their leading men such as Gill, Booth, Ryland, and Kinghorn held anything like NCT tenets. These started with the impact of rational Fullerism which invited back a host of heresies into Baptist ranks. It is difficult to parley with rebels who have not the foggiest idea why they are rebelling and are oblivious to the fact that their own calling-up papers are pure forgeries.
These are more false accusations. It is interesting that the four men you mention are all post-1689 Confession Baptists. The 1689 Confession was a backing away from the historic Baptist position, likely due to the political climate and stresses they were under at the time. The four men you name are closer to what today would be called Reformed Baptists than to the Old Particular Baptists who wrote, or at least lived at the time of, the 1644/46 Confession. Those earlier men certainly did hold to something like NCT tenets. Thomas Patient wrote a book on the subject in 1654. It is called The Doctrine of Baptism and the Distinction of the Covenants. I will quote just a small part of it (please excuse the formatting; I cut and pasted it from a MS Word file I have of it to save some typing):
The Scriptures Set Forth Two Covenants
That I may with as much clear satisfaction, inform others as God has clearly convinced my own soul of the truth of this, I shall propound this method to be handled:
There are Two Covenants Held Forth in the Scriptures, One of Grace and One of Works
First, I shall make it appear to you that there are two covenants held forth in Scripture, the one a Covenant of Grace, and the other a Covenant of Works. An absolute covenant and a conditional covenant.
The Covenant of Circumcision was not a Covenant of Life, but a Covenant of Works
Secondly, I shall prove, that the Covenant of Circumcision was no Covenant of Eternal Life, but a conditional covenant, a Covenant of Works.
Only Believers Have a Right to the Covenant of Grace
Thirdly, I shall prove, that none but believers ever had; or shall have a right to the Covenant of Grace.
An Answer to Those Who Allege the Contrary
Fourthly, I shall endeavor to answer such Scriptures (especially those in the New Testament) that are usually alleged for defense of a Covenant of Life in the flesh.
Two Covenants, the One of Works, the Other of Grace, or the One the Old, the Other the New
To the first: there are Two Covenants mentioned in the Scripture. This is very plain. One is a Covenant of Eternal Life, the other is a Covenant of Works in which eternal life was not conveyed or given, as appears in Jeremiah 31:31-34. “But behold the day cometh, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their Fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the Land of Egypt, which my covenant they brake, although I was to them an husband saith the Lord. But this shall be the Covenant that I shall make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts and will be their God, and they shall be my people, and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord, for I will forgive their Iniquities and remember their sins no more.”
Herein There are Two Covenants
You see here Two Covenants, the one Old, the other New. As here we find a New and Old Covenant, so there is likewise mention of Two Covenants in the eighth to the Hebrews. There you have the very same words, only it is clear that Jesus Christ is the Minister of the New Covenant, in the 6th and 7th verses of that chapter: “But now hath he obtained a more excellent Ministry, by how much also he is the Mediator of a better Covenant, which was established upon better promises, for if that first Covenant had been faultless, there would no place have been sought for the second.”
Jesus Christ is the Administrator of the New Covenant
In which place we may understand Two Covenants, a New Covenant and an Old Covenant, and Jesus Christ holding Himself to be the peculiar Minister of the New Covenant, (unto the Church then gathered) which is all those who are in Christ, being God’s Israel, Abraham’s seed.
Those in Christ are Abraham’s Seed
If you be in Christ then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise, Gal. 3 to the latter end. So that those who are Christ’s have this Covenant now made to them. It appears at the 3rd verse that the other covenant was a mere Covenant of Works, in that he says He has made the first old.
The Old Covenant Vanished Away
That which waxes old is ready to vanish away. He means the old covenant, that typical Covenant of Works, which ran upon the fleshly line of Abraham till Christ came out of the flesh of Abraham and so put an end to that covenant in the flesh. This you have further proved in Heb. 9:15, 16. There is again mention made of Two Covenants or Testaments, the first and second.
The First Covenant was Confirmed by the Blood of Animals and the Second by the Blood of Jesus Christ
The first was confirmed by the blood of goats and calves, the second by the blood of Christ. Now if anyone will search these Scriptures it will appear that there are two real, distinct Covenants or Testaments, the one of Grace, and the other of works. One is conditional and the other is absolute.
Notice Samuel Richardson writing in Justification By Christ Alone in 1647:
Now we are dead to Moses’ Law, but not to Christ’s, “now we are married to another,” Rom. 7:4, to Christ; we ought to be subject to him and obey his commands, and though we may not bear Moses, we must bear Christ, He has a yoke for our necks and we must put it on, and bear it, “Take my yoke upon you,” Matt. 11:29. Christ gives the same law, to be a rule to all His to walk in, and obey Him in. Christ’s Testament is His will, which is full of His commands.
Nothing to Do For Our Salvation But Much To Do For Christ’s Service
I grant we have nothing to do as a cause or means of our acceptation, justification, or salvation, etc.. Yet we have much to do, for to honor and glorify God, and herein is my father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit, John 15:8. And although there is no curse or wrath annexed to Christ’s commands, (as there was to Moses’ law, Gal. 3:10) to constrain us to keep the law, or to be inflicted upon us, when we fall and come short, yet know that the power of divine love sweetly and violently constrains a soul to obey Christ’s words, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation, teacheth us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world,” Titus 2:11,12. Christ says “if any man love me, he will keep my words,” John 14:23 and 15:16. See Eph. 2:10.
Now hear Edward Drapes in The Invisible and Visible Worship of God in 1649:
Christ’s laws are very excellent. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. O how hard a matter was it, yea impossible to fulfill Moses’ law, but Christ communicates of His fullness that we may fulfill the royal law of love….
I chose these quotes to show that the Old Particular Baptists certainly taught a distinction between the Old and New Covenants and that, while we are dead to Moses’ law, we are not dead to Christ’s. These are NCT teachings that you have attacked.
Of the later Particular Baptists, I will quote from Gadsby’s Catechism:
Q.49 What law was Christ made under in His estate of humiliation?
ANSWER. The law of works.
Matt. 5.17-18; Rom. 5.19; Gal. 4.4-5.
Q.50 What is meant by the law of works?
ANSWER. The law of God, commonly called the moral law, chiefly contained in the ten commandments.
Ex. 20.1-17; Deut. 5.6-21.
Q.71 What blessings are connected with faith in Christ Jesus?
ANSWER. The blessings connected with faith in Christ Jesus are, a freedom from the bondage of sin, Satan, the world, death and the law, with free access to the Father, and a hearty welcome to all the glory of the gospel and the blessings of God’s house.
Jn. 3.14-17; Rom. 5.2 & 6.14 & 8.1-4; Eph. 2.18-22; l Jn. 2.12-14 & 5.4-5.
Q.72 Since a believer is made free from the law, is it any part of his freedom to be at liberty to sin?
ANSWER. No; for he is called to holiness; and though he is dead to, and free from, the law of works, he is not now, nor does he wish to be, without law to God but is under the law of Christ.
Luke 6.46; Rom. 6.1-2,6-7,11-19 & 7.1-6; 1Cor. 9.21; Gal. 5.1,13-25; Col. 2.6-7; 2Tim. 2.19; Tit. 3.8.
Q.73 What is the law of Christ?
ANSWER. The law of Christ is the gospel of His grace, which is the law from Zion, called the law of faith, the law of liberty, and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Isa. 2.2-3; Jer. 31.31-34; Mic. 4.1-2; Rom. 3.27 & 7.21-25 & 8.1-4; Gal. 6.2; Heb. 1.8 & 8.6-13; James 1.25.
Q.74 What is the gospel?
ANSWER. The gospel may be taken in a limited or in a more extensive sense.
Mark 1. 14-15; Jn. 1.17; Rom. 1.16; Eph. 3.6; 1Tim. 1.11,14-15.
Q.75 What is meant by the gospel in a limited sense?
ANSWER. Glad tidings of great joy, or a free proclamation of rich mercy, without money and without price, to poor, sin-burdened sinners; with the glorious invitations, doctrines and promises of God’s everlasting love, and the blessings these truths contain.
Isa. 55.1-3,6-7; Matt. 11.28-30; Luke 2.10-11,14 & 11.9-10; Jn. 1.16-17 & 3.14-17 & 7.37; Rom. 1.16 & 10.13; Tit. 3.4-7; Rev. 21.6 & 22.17.
Q.76 What is meant by the gospel in a more extensive sense?
ANSWER. The above things, together with the precepts and ordinances enjoined on the church by Christ and His apostles, and the things connected therewith.
Matt. 28.18-20; Jn. 13.34 & 14.15; 1 Cor. 11.23-26; Eph. 2.8-10; Col. 2.6-7; Tit. 3.8-9; 1Jn. 2.6; 2Jn. 6.
So, it is certainly true that the Gospel is the rule of life for believers. But the Gospel encompasses the Law of Christ, which is not the OT law of works, “commonly called the moral law, chiefly contained in the ten commandments.”
It does appear odd, if not amusing, that you profess to be a Sovereign Grace Baptist but deny not only the Covenant of Grace in both Testaments but stress a legalism that not even the Jews knew. You are Antinomian in that you have destroyed God’s Law and Neonomian in that you have invented a New Law with which God has nothing to do.
Okay, all we Sovereign Grace people, including (I believe) you, have been accused of being Antinomian. I did not destroy God’s law. Jesus fulfilled it. He kept it perfectly for me and died to pay the penalties it had against me. I am now under the law of my Husband. To turn back to the Old Covenant law would be spiritual adultery. My attempts to keep Christ’s law merit me nothing and nothing I do can ever obligate God. It is simply something I want to do because God working in me, renewing my mind, causes me to want to keep my Lord, Savior, and Husband’s laws. This frees me from the charge of Neonomianism, which teaches that there is merit earned for obedience. It also follows Article XXIX of the 1646 Confession, which states:
All believers are a holy and sanctified people, and that sanctification is a spiritual grace of the new covenant, and an effect of the love of God manifested in the soul, whereby the believer presseth after a heavenly and evangelical obedience to all the commands, which Christ as head and king in His new covenant hath prescribed to them.
I continue to offer you the right hand of fellowship, believing that God in His grace makes His strength perfect in our weakness and that election is never conditioned by the momentary rebellion of His chosen ones.
Among other things, you did not address my point concerning the connection between the Reformed concept of one covenant/two administrations and the political expediency of continuing infant sprinkling and excusing it as the new administration form of infant circumcision; and you did not address my observation, backed up by quoted evidence, that much of what other writers for New Focus believe is closer to what you are criticizing as NCT than it is to your Reformed beliefs.
In closing, I want to say that I am disappointed with your continual resort to argumentum ad personam and vitriolic, inflammatory language as a “defense.” You have done nothing to further my understanding of your position. Thank you for your offer of the right hand of fellowship. I will accept if you will agree to my condition that you stop your false accusations, character assassinations, empty rhetoric, and acerbic words.
I can thus sign myself,
Yours in grace,
George M. Ella
PS: Please add this manifesto to your internet dispatches.
Copyright © 2012 Peter Ditzel