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Baptism discuss Baptism, re-baptism, and church membership in the Theology forums; I'd like to know from the credo-baptists among us why the following sort of thing occurs today in the modern church. These are not hypothetical ...

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    toddpedlar's Avatar
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    Baptism, re-baptism, and church membership

    I'd like to know from the credo-baptists among us why the following sort of thing occurs today in the modern church. These are not hypothetical cases, but real situations I know about, and am considering responding to by contacting the pastors and/or individuals involved - but wanted to flesh out the discussion here first.

    When a family desires to join a baptist church - is inquiry always made about the baptisms of the family? I.e. were they baptized as infants, professors, whatever? I assume that if they are accepted as members either a) the church recognizes infant baptism of those so baptized as valid or b) the church accepts into membership those that it does not view as having properly been baptized. I'm particularly interested in knowing the difference between Reformed baptists and those who are involved in the SBC, or other baptist wings of the church that don't confessionally hold to the LBC.

    Supposing situation a) above... what if a person who joined the church desired later to be baptized as an act of obedience, because personally they viewed their earlier infant baptism to be invalid. How would such a person be counselled in this case?

    It seems to me that a proper view of church membership must include, in any case, the acceptance of the baptism of the proposed member - or include the baptism of that proposed member as an act of joining the church. Is that consistent with most baptist practice (esp. in "Reformed baptist" circles)? Could a member be accepted if the church viewed him as unbaptized - and... if he was viewed as baptized, would a "new" baptism ever be performed under any circumstances?

    I hope the discussion is profitable - not just because of what I've run across but for the understanding about modern baptist (and Reformed baptist) practice for those of us who are steeped in paedobaptism personally and just haven't the experience with various kinds of credobaptist practices.
    Todd K. Pedlar
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    Many churches would say that a person "baptized" as an infant was not truly baptized at all because the carrying-out of the baptism was too far from the NT example and thus there would be no "RE-baptism" invovled, only a Biblical baptism. Many churches would require baptism as a pre-requisite for membership.
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    Excellent observation Pergamum.

    Todd, the answer to your question is probably too varied to answer with any sense of being "absolute." For instance, many "reformed" Baptist churches recognize infant baptism for membership, but don't encourage it. However, a church that might seem sort of in-between would be Dever's church, where, if I remember right, believer's baptism is required for membership. At GCC (MacArthur) they state that someone has to be baptized as a believer, but have allowed for paedo membership when the applicants can express their position well. I've had this discussion with many who claim that "you're making it harder to join your church than it is to get saved" when you require believer's baptism. And many SBC or other mainline Baptist churches probably can't articulate their reasoning well, but do it because "that's just the way it's done." It's a complicated challenge, especially among the covenantal Baptists as they pursue doctrinal correctness and graciousness. The variance is probably most pronounced within the SBC as you have churches such as Sam Waldron's and Rick Warren's in the same denomination.

    I'll share what we do. First, I think it's inconsistent for a Baptist church to allow membership for anyone who hasn't professed Christ first. From a credo point of view, it is the first act of obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ. To fail to do so is to act out in rebellion and "prove" one's condition (unrepentant, proud and disobedient). Some disagree, and I'm not trying to persuade now so much as explain (per your request).
    To join our church one has to be baptized as a believer. As Pergy mentioned above, we would consider infant baptism as a nice dedication, but not consistent with the scriptural mandate to baptize. For those who say we make it harder to join our church than it is to get saved, I would agree. We all have criteria that limit who can join in order to avoid divisiveness and protect the flock God has entrusted to us. We have to draw lines somewhere. It's an unfortunate result of our depravity as well as our lack of understanding of God's Word (some more accurately in certain areas than others).
    For clarity, while our church firmly embraces the solas and TULIP, we are not a LBC church. We would be in substantial agreement, but not covenantal in a historical (systematic) sense.

    There is another aspect to this that I'll hit on briefly because it's seldom brought up. Baptism is an essential part of the Gospel. When we witness to someone we often leave it out, simply trying to get them to see their sin and repent. Of course, when you only have a few minutes it can be difficult to get any further than that. But when we have any extensive witnessing interaction with an individual, as a baptist, baptism should be an integral part of our witness as it portrays the death of the old man and the birth of the new; the death to self and life for Christ.

    I hope that helps Todd, and that I haven't muddied the waters any. Blessings to you in your pursuit.
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    Todd, not trying to dodge the tough question here. RB's consider an infant baptism to be invalid. We belive in baptism upon a credible profession of faith. Therefore we would require a new member to be baptized in a valid manner. We do not consider this re-baptism but baptism being properly administered the first time. This is pretty standard practice for all Baptists, not just RB's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Supposing situation a) above... what if a person who joined the church desired later to be baptized as an act of obedience, because personally they viewed their earlier infant baptism to be invalid. How would such a person be counselled in this case?
    I assume that in this scenario, the person knows for a fact that they were baptized as an infant? Honestly, most of the people I deal with are not even sure. This is probably due to the fact that many paedo denoms do not stress baptism as a 'sign' and 'seal' the way PB paedos do. Honestly, I have never had a person come to me and say, "I know for sure I was baptized as an infant and I have the certificate to prove it." This leaves the Baptist church in a tough spot because no one knows for sure whether this person was baptized or not. It is my counsel in those situations to go ahead and baptize.

    In addition, how do any of us know for sure that a person is correct when they say they have or have not been baptized? With everyone church hopping these days, and all of the 'bathtub baptisms', it is impossible for a pastor to know if he is indeed 'rebaptizing' someone unless its his own kids.

    Sheesh! (Sorry this turned into a rant but it is a problem that I am dealing with right now)


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    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    Todd, not trying to dodge the tough question here. RB's consider an infant baptism to be invalid. We belive in baptism upon a credible profession of faith. Therefore we would require a new member to be baptized in a valid manner. We do not consider this re-baptism but baptism being properly administered the first time. This is pretty standard practice for all Baptists, not just RB's.
    Agreed, Bill. Any "Reformed Baptist" type church (as described in one of the above posts) that accepts infant baptism or sprinkling is unconfessional. In most Baptist churches that aren't liberal or doctrinally indifferent, inquiry is generally made of those presenting themselves for membership. Those who were sprinkled, whether as infants or adults are baptized. There should be no difference between SBC, RB or really any other kind of Baptist. But in some aspects of Baptist life, there's been about as much of a downgrade in ecclesiology as there has been in soteriology. I have noticed a tendency among some Calvinistic Baptists, particularly younger ones, to adopt Bunyan's view that differences on baptism shouldn't be a bar to church membership or communion. In that respect some of the non-Calvinistic Southern Baptists are more confessional than some of the so called "Reformed Baptists" in their midst on this issue.

    Various independent churches and some "Bible Churches" will sometimes be indifferent on the issue from a consistent Baptist perspective. These churches are baptistic in that they typically only practice immersion of professing disciples, but some of them will accept into membership people who were sprinkled, etc. if they do not want to be immersed.
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    Todd,

    One of the problems with asking a specific question about an autonomous movement is that one size does not fit all as it would in a confessional Reformed church.

    However, that being said . . .

    I served on staff in a Baptist church (150 attendance), pastored a Baptist church for a seven years (110 average attendance) and was senior pastor of another one for a decade (525 attendance) that accepted members in three ways . . .
    a. Baptism upon a credible profession of faith.
    b. Transfer of membership from another BAPTIST (any stripe) church.
    c. Christian Experience

    In the first one, one had to be baptized as a believer (therefore compelling a prospective member to repeat their infant baptism). In the last two, that was not necessary. In other words, a person who was a member of another Christian denomination (regardless of whether they were credo or paedo) could join our congregation on the basis of declaring that they had been baptized AND had been a member in good standing in a congregation of "like faith." In practice, this meant pretty much a green light for any evangelical coming from any evangelical denomination (including Presbyterian, Congregational, and Free Methodist where paedo baptism was practiced).

    Does any of this make sense? No! Either you believe there is one valid candidate for baptism or you don't. My last churches simply wanted to be sure that a person had been baptized + had a credible confession of faith. Since church membership was taken to establish the second, the "irregularity" of the first was passed over.

    Please understand, however, that outside of the SBC and many Reformed groups, denominationalism is not usually a big issue. Even in my "mainline" denomination of origin, here in So. Cal. less than 5% of the candidates for ordination were trained at a "Baptist" school. Most were either graduates of Fuller (and therefore mainly taught by Presbyterians of one stripe or another), Talbot (and thoroughly dispensational or progressive dispensational), or Bethel (SD). In my judicatory, we were more concerned with the "Evangelical" identity, not Baptist identity. If a person was an evangelical in conviction, had been baptized, and had a credible confession, they were OK regardless of their former church's practice on baptism.

    Of the many anomalies inherent in this situation, try this one. If you are screening for an evangelical, then you are generally looking for agreement on the "fundamentals." In this respect, a conservative Presbyterian has more in common with an evangelical Baptist than the Baptist would with a fundamentalist Baptist! Yet, even the fundamentalist Baptist would share an ecclesiology quite close to the evangelical Baptist and they would both be pretty far in their sacramentology from the Presbyterian.
    Dennis E. McFadden, Ex Mainline Baptist (in Remission)
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    I thought of an addendum to my last post. Since WWII, denominational identity has suffered greatly. My particular mainline group at the time (ABCUSA) scored lowest on surveys of the importance of denominational identity. Part of this was due to the Baptist practice of autonomy. However, that is not the whole story since the SBC has a VERY high sense of identity verging on a sectarian mindset.

    The ABC has always been a group more conservative in the hustings than in the hierarchy. When I did a 500+ page M.A. in Organizational Management in the 90s, my research (systematic random sample of 1,400 pastors with a 49% response rate on a 180 question inventory), showed that the vast majority of pastors held to middle of the road evangelical views on most subjects (including the hot button ones). This tended to depress attendance at the almost universally progressive (to outright heretical) seminaries sponsored by the denomination. Not having a shared theological educational experience, functioning in a post-denominational milieu, and spending a good bit of time professing "I am a Baptist, but not THEIR kind of Baptist," probably contributed to the sloppy practice with regard to membership.

    In theory, the Baptist view of the church should require transfer of membership only from credo-baptist bodies. In practice, it does not always work out that way for the reasons identified in this post and the previous one. Furthermore, the tendency for evangelical candidates for ordination to attend interdenominational schools does much to pluralize, relativize, and privatize attitudes toward the "right" kind of baptism. When your teachers and fellow students are co-religionists from a variety of traditions, insisting on your own group having the "right" way to do anything is a harder sell.

    In my opinion, these reasons all help explain why some evangelical churches are more "open"/indifferent to the charismatic movement, women in ministry, acceptable eschatological variations, and emerging/emergent church trends. When your identify is shaped in a multi-traditional educational institution and you are prone to think in terms of the five fundamentals, you will be more inclined to see variation in areas not included in the core.

    Todd, hope that helps.
    Dennis E. McFadden, Ex Mainline Baptist (in Remission)
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcFadden View Post
    I thought of an addendum to my last post. Since WWII, denominational identity has suffered greatly. My particular mainline group at the time (ABCUSA) scored lowest on surveys of the importance of denominational identity. Part of this was due to the Baptist practice of autonomy. However, that is not the whole story since the SBC has a VERY high sense of identity verging on a sectarian mindset.

    The ABC has always been a group more conservative in the hustings than in the hierarchy. When I did a 500+ page M.A. in Organizational Management in the 90s, my research (systematic random sample of 1,400 pastors with a 49% response rate on a 180 question inventory), showed that the vast majority of pastors held to middle of the road evangelical views on most subjects (including the hot button ones). This tended to depress attendance at the almost universally progressive (to outright heretical) seminaries sponsored by the denomination. Not having a shared theological educational experience, functioning in a post-denominational milieu, and spending a good bit of time professing "I am a Baptist, but not THEIR kind of Baptist," probably contributed to the sloppy practice with regard to membership.

    In theory, the Baptist view of the church should require transfer of membership only from credo-baptist bodies. In practice, it does not always work out that way for the reasons identified in this post and the previous one.

    Todd, hope that helps.
    Thanks for this post, Dennis. I was just going to chalk up your practice to being on the left coast as well as being ABCUSA. You have provided us with some helpful background that explains this practice among many baptistic churches. Although I didn't post it in this thread, I have long thought that, as you noted, this practice of receiving unbaptized members is due to the churches involved having more of a generic evangelical identity than a Baptist one. Some churches of this persuasion have Baptist in the name and some don't. I would be quite surprised if there aren't some Southern Baptists churches who do this too.

    It is unfortunate that there was no "Conservative Resurgence" in the ABCUSA. Do you think the polity was somewhat to blame? Is it more "top down" than the SBC is? If I'm not mistaken, a lot of conservatives left the Northern Baptists in the 1930's during the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy as well, similar to the OPC leaving the PCUSA.

    Also, to some the SBC may seem to have a sectarian mindset. I agree that it has a high degree of identity compared to the mainlines. But there is a lot of handwringing today over the lack of denominational identity among the "Younger Southern Baptists" that we see constant reference to in the Baptist Press, the blogs and elsewhere. Some of this lack of identity IMO is not helpful as I noted earlier. One symptom of this perceived lack is a "Baptist Identity" movement that seems to be largely coming out of Southwestern Seminary.

    The perception of the SBC is largely in the eye of the beholder. Obviously it is a diverse group, including everything from Rick Warren to landmarkists. Many of the indy/fundy viewpoint still view the SBC as being only marginally better than the ABCUSA. I met a woman recently who is a member of a SBC in Mississippi. She told me the rest of her family is Missionary Baptist and views them as being "liberal" for belonging to a Southern Baptist church.
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    I can see why Baptist churches would not see infant baptism as baptism and would require a believers baptism for membership or communion. Such a position is logical and consistent with their teachings.

    What I have a difficulty with is requiring a baptism by immersion where the persons previous baptism was as an adult on profession of faith but by sprinkling.

    Is this inisistance (rather than a strong preference) on immersion widespread or even universal?

    Can this practice be defended as anything other than sectarian?
    Mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippo View Post
    I can see why Baptist churches would not see infant baptism as baptism and would require a believers baptism for membership or communion. Such a position is logical and consistent with their teachings.

    What I have a difficulty with is requiring a baptism by immersion where the persons previous baptism was as an adult on profession of faith but by sprinkling.

    Is this inisistance (rather than a strong preference) on immersion widespread or even universal?

    Can this practice be defended as anything other than sectarian?
    It is often regarded as sectarian by non-Baptists, but from the Baptist point of view there is no baptism unless it is by immersion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Hippo View Post
    I can see why Baptist churches would not see infant baptism as baptism and would require a believers baptism for membership or communion. Such a position is logical and consistent with their teachings.

    What I have a difficulty with is requiring a baptism by immersion where the persons previous baptism was as an adult on profession of faith but by sprinkling.

    Is this inisistance (rather than a strong preference) on immersion widespread or even universal?

    Can this practice be defended as anything other than sectarian?
    It is often regarded as sectarian by non-Baptists, but from the Baptist point of view there is no baptism unless it is by immersion.
    Firstly how widespread is this position and secondly why is the mode seen as of critical importance, without the possibility of differing interpretations?
    Mike
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    The significance of identifying with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. We are buried together with Christ and raised to walk in the newness of life. These are necessarily lost if one is not immersed (submerged, if you will).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippo View Post
    I can see why Baptist churches would not see infant baptism as baptism and would require a believers baptism for membership or communion. Such a position is logical and consistent with their teachings.

    What I have a difficulty with is requiring a baptism by immersion where the persons previous baptism was as an adult on profession of faith but by sprinkling.

    Is this inisistance (rather than a strong preference) on immersion widespread or even universal?

    Can this practice be defended as anything other than sectarian?
    If Baptists are true to what they believe they will insist on baptism by immersion of professed believers. Sectarian? I have to interpret your use of that word as pejorative. I prefer to view our view of baptism as scriptural. Arguable? On the PB, certainly!
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    Thanks, my baptist brothers. This is helpful. I'm going to be talking to the people I mentioned anonymously, and we'll see how the discussion goes. I fear the church involved isn't being consistent in their application ... that is it seems they do accept baptisms of individuals regardless of whether they were as infants or as professors for the purpose of membership, but will baptize a person who is currently a member of the church (based in part on that previous baptism) previously baptized as an infant if they believe they are being called to do so as an act of obedience to Christ.

    Such language makes me shudder.
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    By the way, just to be clear - I have NO problem whatsoever with a baptist congregation being consistent with their principles and requiring professor-baptism of those who would be members. This is only treating baptism with the respect it deserves and being consistent with what they profess true baptism to be.

    My problem is with those who seem not to have any real doctrine of baptism and hence slosh back and forth all over the place when it comes to performing (or not performing) it.
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    Speaking from the Baptist Pastor's position, in the modern Amercan church, you simply have to take people at their word and do what you have to do with fear and trembling that you will be held to an account. Someone could tell me that he was baptized and be mistaken. Someone could tell me that he had not been baptized and be mistaken. There is no way to find out what the truth is. Therefore, most of us would err on the side of caution and baptize and ask the Lord to forgive any irregularities.

    As to immersion, I confess that I do not agree with those who believe that baptism upon profession by affusion needs a 'do over'.

    The LBC says, "Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance."

    I take this to mean that on my end, as a Pastor, it is required of me to immerse. A man who has been sprinkled may have an 'irregular' baptism but I don't think it makes sense to 'rebaptize' in such a case because of the importance of baptism being a 'one-time' event.

    Please correct me if I am in error!


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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Speaking from the Baptist Pastor's position, in the modern Amercan church, you simply have to take people at their word and do what you have to do with fear and trembling that you will be held to an account. Someone could tell me that he was baptized and be mistaken. Someone could tell me that he had not been baptized and be mistaken. There is no way to find out what the truth is. Therefore, most of us would err on the side of caution and baptize and ask the Lord to forgive any irregularities.

    As to immersion, I confess that I do not agree with those who believe that baptism upon profession by affusion needs a 'do over'.

    The LBC says, "Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance."

    I take this to mean that on my end, as a Pastor, it is required of me to immerse. A man who has been sprinkled may have an 'irregular' baptism but I don't think it makes sense to 'rebaptize' in such a case because of the importance of baptism being a 'one-time' event.

    Please correct me if I am in error!
    To me your position makes sense.

    I can understand an insistance that a profession of faith is required for a baptism to be valid, I can also understand why immersion is seen to be the desirable mode but I still do not understand why what is seen as an irregular mode renders the baptism void.
    Mike
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    If I was a consistent credobaptist i would say I believe in membership is for indivdual believers not families. So the husband and wife are taken into membership separately and interviewed separately. Kids would have the same thing. And the baptism would have to have occured by immersion (unless a extreme circumstance prevented it like a medical reason or a extreme fear of water) after a credible profession of faith.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Speaking from the Baptist Pastor's position, in the modern Amercan church, you simply have to take people at their word and do what you have to do with fear and trembling that you will be held to an account. Someone could tell me that he was baptized and be mistaken. Someone could tell me that he had not been baptized and be mistaken. There is no way to find out what the truth is. Therefore, most of us would err on the side of caution and baptize and ask the Lord to forgive any irregularities.

    As to immersion, I confess that I do not agree with those who believe that baptism upon profession by affusion needs a 'do over'.

    The LBC says, "Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance."

    I take this to mean that on my end, as a Pastor, it is required of me to immerse. A man who has been sprinkled may have an 'irregular' baptism but I don't think it makes sense to 'rebaptize' in such a case because of the importance of baptism being a 'one-time' event.

    Please correct me if I am in error!
    Ken, I loathe the word re-baptize in the context you used. You are either scripturally baptized (by mode and administration) or you are not. If you are not baptized by an ordained minister of the gospel via immersion you are not scriptural baptized. Therefore, you need to be scripturally baptized for the first time. Not only will this result in a scriptural baptism but it will also maintain the continuity of the ordinance and protect it from abuse. Compromise in one aspect of baptism will eventually lead to more compromise. This is why I am pleased the elders in John Piper's church opposed his recommendation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Speaking from the Baptist Pastor's position, in the modern Amercan church, you simply have to take people at their word and do what you have to do with fear and trembling that you will be held to an account. Someone could tell me that he was baptized and be mistaken. Someone could tell me that he had not been baptized and be mistaken. There is no way to find out what the truth is. Therefore, most of us would err on the side of caution and baptize and ask the Lord to forgive any irregularities.

    As to immersion, I confess that I do not agree with those who believe that baptism upon profession by affusion needs a 'do over'.

    The LBC says, "Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance."

    I take this to mean that on my end, as a Pastor, it is required of me to immerse. A man who has been sprinkled may have an 'irregular' baptism but I don't think it makes sense to 'rebaptize' in such a case because of the importance of baptism being a 'one-time' event.

    Please correct me if I am in error!
    Ken, I loathe the word re-baptize in the context you used. You are either scripturally baptized (by mode and administration) or you are not. If you are not baptized by an ordained minister of the gospel via immersion you are not scriptural baptized. Therefore, you need to be scripturally baptized for the first time. Not only will this result in a scriptural baptism but it will also maintain the continuity of the ordinance and protect it from abuse. Compromise in one aspect of baptism will eventually lead to more compromise. This is why I am pleased the elders in John Piper's church opposed his recommendation.
    Really? I did not hear about this! Go John Piper's Church and go Piper for submitting to it!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Speaking from the Baptist Pastor's position, in the modern Amercan church, you simply have to take people at their word and do what you have to do with fear and trembling that you will be held to an account. Someone could tell me that he was baptized and be mistaken. Someone could tell me that he had not been baptized and be mistaken. There is no way to find out what the truth is. Therefore, most of us would err on the side of caution and baptize and ask the Lord to forgive any irregularities.

    As to immersion, I confess that I do not agree with those who believe that baptism upon profession by affusion needs a 'do over'.

    The LBC says, "Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance."

    I take this to mean that on my end, as a Pastor, it is required of me to immerse. A man who has been sprinkled may have an 'irregular' baptism but I don't think it makes sense to 'rebaptize' in such a case because of the importance of baptism being a 'one-time' event.

    Please correct me if I am in error!
    To me your position makes sense.

    I can understand an insistance that a profession of faith is required for a baptism to be valid, I can also understand why immersion is seen to be the desirable mode but I still do not understand why what is seen as an irregular mode renders the baptism void.
    Again, as my post points out, there is no uniformity among Baptists. Even before the advent of the 1689, Baptists were not immersionists. That came later and was referenced (codified?) in the LBCF.

    Along with Ken, during my pastoral days (also prior to my discovery of confessionalism!), I did not see the necessity of a "do over" for the one baptized upon profession of faith regardless of mode. And, since my last two churches allowed transfer without re-baptism, it was not an issue there either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    My problem is with those who seem not to have any real doctrine of baptism and hence slosh back and forth all over the place when it comes to performing (or not performing) it.
    I'm not sure that your characterization, Todd, captures the reason for the practice. It is not that some Baptists do not have a doctrine of baptism, which they surrender willy nilly in the face of expedience. Rather, for them it tends to be MERELY an act of obedient identification, not a sacramental act.

    If one had a covenant view of baptism (either Reformed or Reformed Baptist), it would matter supremely whether the baptism was credo or paedo. Indeed, I find it more difficult to understand Piper and others who, if it were left up to them, would try to have their cake and eat it too.

    But for those with a pretty dehydrated ordinancial view of the rite, greater latitude might be understandable, albeit still pretty weird. If you had gone to school with people who held every view imaginable of baptism, and if your church only focused on the five fundamentals, and if you had a theology of baptism that said it was non-efficacious in any respect and it only served as a kind of check-off on the spiritual "to do" list for the day, you might find the latitudinarian practice more understandable. Take it to the other extreme. RC folks believe it to be ESSENTIAL to salvation. You can bet they would not tolerate any significant degree of divergence. Baptists are on the other end of the polarity. Some flakiness should be expected.
    Last edited by DMcFadden; 06-25-2008 at 02:07 AM.
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    Now I found this interesting:

    Immersion was then still the prevailing mode in England, and continued till the reign of Elizabeth, who was herself baptized by immersion.
    Schaff, Philip ; Schaff, David Schley: History of the Christian Church. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997

    You have got to love Logos for pulling up some odd facts during a search.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcFadden View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Hippo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Speaking from the Baptist Pastor's position, in the modern Amercan church, you simply have to take people at their word and do what you have to do with fear and trembling that you will be held to an account. Someone could tell me that he was baptized and be mistaken. Someone could tell me that he had not been baptized and be mistaken. There is no way to find out what the truth is. Therefore, most of us would err on the side of caution and baptize and ask the Lord to forgive any irregularities.

    As to immersion, I confess that I do not agree with those who believe that baptism upon profession by affusion needs a 'do over'.

    The LBC says, "Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance."

    I take this to mean that on my end, as a Pastor, it is required of me to immerse. A man who has been sprinkled may have an 'irregular' baptism but I don't think it makes sense to 'rebaptize' in such a case because of the importance of baptism being a 'one-time' event.

    Please correct me if I am in error!
    To me your position makes sense.

    I can understand an insistance that a profession of faith is required for a baptism to be valid, I can also understand why immersion is seen to be the desirable mode but I still do not understand why what is seen as an irregular mode renders the baptism void.
    Again, as my post points out, there is no uniformity among Baptists. Even before the advent of the 1689, Baptists were not immersionists. That came later and was referenced (codified?) in the LBCF.

    Along with Ken, during my pastoral days (also prior to my discovery of confessionalism!), I did not see the necessity of a "do over" for the one baptized upon profession of faith regardless of mode. And, since my last two churches allowed transfer without re-baptism, it was not an issue there either.
    Dennis, well that's the point about confessionalism, isn't it? The LBC codified the proper administration and mode of the ordinance. I won't call for the lynching of Baptist ministers who accept prior sprinkling, but I would describe them as unconfessional.
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    Brother Dennis,

    Just to clarify, I mean no disrespect to you. You are an encouragement to my faith and have challenged me by your words here on the PB. I suppose the larger issue for me is Baptists that are ashamed to be Baptists. I would rather a Baptist go Presbyterian than to straddle the fence between both camps. I've seen the sparks fly when Baptists are actually called to subscribe to the confession they identify with. We're going through this right now in my church as we are vetting the ramifications of adopting the 1689 LBC as our doctrinal statement. The next few months should be interesting indeed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post

    It is unfortunate that there was no "Conservative Resurgence" in the ABCUSA. Do you think the polity was somewhat to blame? Is it more "top down" than the SBC is? If I'm not mistaken, a lot of conservatives left the Northern Baptists in the 1930's during the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy as well, similar to the OPC leaving the PCUSA.
    Polity, sure. But, more corporate culture than polity. Because the ABC had a long tradition in the 20th century of liberal leadership, there was a pretty strong indoctrination in the ethos of "live and let live," it's the "Baptist way." Even very conservative pastors did not want to be viewed as "fundamentalists" or legalists. And, unlike the SBC, there were frankly no conservatives willing to take political power in their hands ala Pressler and Patterson. ABC conservatives gave the money and grew the churches but generally did not want to get their hands dirty with denominational "politics."

    Following the departure in the 30s of the now GARB and the exodus in '47 of the Conservative Baptists, the rules of procedure for our national meetings were skewed in tamer and tamer terms that militated against any significant political upheaval. Then, when a judicatory in WV threatened to use a referendum process to canvass the entire denomination in the early 90s, the leaders rewrote the rules again to make it virtually impossible to upset any apple carts through normal political channels.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcFadden View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    My problem is with those who seem not to have any real doctrine of baptism and hence slosh back and forth all over the place when it comes to performing (or not performing) it.
    I'm not sure that your characterization, Todd, captures the reason for the practice. It is not that some Baptists do not have a doctrine of baptism, which they surrender willy nilly in the face of expedience. Rather, for them it tends to be MERELY an act of obedient identification, not a sacramental act.
    I guess I should have been more careful in my remarks. It does
    seem that these folks I'm referring to have this mentality... but
    because of the openness to accepting baptism of any kind as valid,
    it can get worse... because then any baptism of a person who was
    previously baptized (credo or paedo) is, by necessity, a re-baptism
    (since the church affirmed the initial baptism the person had, credo or
    paedo). If the individual suddenly comes to the conviction
    that their infant baptism is invalid, they may ask for and receive
    baptism by immersion.

    If, too, it is seen by these churches as an act of obedience only,
    do you think it may be that some people will wind up 'doing it again'
    if they feel the need? After all, if it's only an act of obedience, and
    not a mark of entrance into the visible church, then... all bets seem to
    be off!
    Todd K. Pedlar
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    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    Brother Dennis,

    Just to clarify, I mean no disrespect to you. You are an encouragement to my faith and have challenged me by your words here on the PB. I suppose the larger issue for me is Baptists that are ashamed to be Baptists. I would rather a Baptist go Presbyterian than to straddle the fence between both camps. I've seen the sparks fly when Baptists are actually called to subscribe to the confession they identify with. We're going through this right now in my church as we are vetting the ramifications of adopting the 1689 LBC as our doctrinal statement. The next few months should be interesting indeed.
    Disrespect? Disrespect? DISRESPECT!?! I felt no disrespect. Just beware you New Joisey so-and-so, Guido is coming for YOU!

    Actually, no offense taken. My point was that I ignorantly followed the procedures of my congregation, my congregation more concerned to be evangelical than Baptist, PRIOR to my becoming aware of the confessions in any meaningful way (my polity profs always said that Baptists were a non-creedal people and so we never did much reading of any confessions, including the LBCF).

    BTW, it was never a case of permitting an UNbaptized person into the congregation but of allowing an irregularly baptized person to be admit upon profession of faith and testimony of a prior baptism. Still weird, I grant you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DMcFadden View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    My problem is with those who seem not to have any real doctrine of baptism and hence slosh back and forth all over the place when it comes to performing (or not performing) it.
    I'm not sure that your characterization, Todd, captures the reason for the practice. It is not that some Baptists do not have a doctrine of baptism, which they surrender willy nilly in the face of expedience. Rather, for them it tends to be MERELY an act of obedient identification, not a sacramental act.
    I guess I should have been more careful in my remarks. It does
    seem that these folks I'm referring to have this mentality... but
    because of the openness to accepting baptism of any kind as valid,
    it can get worse... because then any baptism of a person who was
    previously baptized (credo or paedo) is, by necessity, a re-baptism
    (since the church affirmed the initial baptism the person had, credo or
    paedo). If the individual suddenly comes to the conviction
    that their infant baptism is invalid, they may ask for and receive
    baptism by immersion.

    If, too, it is seen by these churches as an act of obedience only,
    do you think it may be that some people will wind up 'doing it again'
    if they feel the need? After all, if it's only an act of obedience, and
    not a mark of entrance into the visible church, then... all bets seem to
    be off!
    I agree with you, Todd. For anyone with a robust understanding of baptism, allowing a "felt need" to determine a re-do is incoherent. For a Baptist you should decide to go one way or the other. Either you are saying that infant baptism was not a valid baptism (in which case paedo baptists should not be admitted without believer's baptistm) OR the infant baptism is valid (in which case "believer's" baptism is a sinful abuse of a biblical ordinance established by Jesus to fit the sentimental whims of a 21st century person.

    My observations regarding the "isness" of today's variations were intended to be purely descriptive, not trying to offer a prescriptive word. I hope my use of "weird," "illogical," and "incoherent" signaled that fact.
    Dennis E. McFadden, Ex Mainline Baptist (in Remission)
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcFadden View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    Brother Dennis,

    Just to clarify, I mean no disrespect to you. You are an encouragement to my faith and have challenged me by your words here on the PB. I suppose the larger issue for me is Baptists that are ashamed to be Baptists. I would rather a Baptist go Presbyterian than to straddle the fence between both camps. I've seen the sparks fly when Baptists are actually called to subscribe to the confession they identify with. We're going through this right now in my church as we are vetting the ramifications of adopting the 1689 LBC as our doctrinal statement. The next few months should be interesting indeed.
    Disrespect? Disrespect? DISRESPECT!?! I felt no disrespect. Just beware you New Joisey so-and-so, Guido is coming for YOU!

    Actually, no offense taken. My point was that I ignorantly followed the procedures of my congregation, my congregation more concerned to be evangelical than Baptist, PRIOR to my becoming aware of the confessions in any meaningful way (my polity profs always said that Baptists were a non-creedal people and so we never did much reading of any confessions, including the LBCF).

    BTW, it was never a case of permitting an UNbaptized person into the congregation but of allowing an irregularly baptized person to be admit upon profession of faith and testimony of a prior baptism. Still weird, I grant you.
    While this mentality would seem to be less common in the Southern Baptist Convention, it does appear to be evident in the way that many churches practice the Lord's Supper. 100 years ago I think close communion would have been the norm for most Baptist churches, but many today practice what amounts to open communion, meaning that they let people come to the table who in their view haven't been scripturally baptized. While this is perhaps becoming the norm today, it really is a rather novel idea in church history. But that's probably a discussion better left another thread.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    Ken, I loathe the word re-baptize in the context you used. You are either scripturally baptized (by mode and administration) or you are not. If you are not baptized by an ordained minister of the gospel via immersion you are not scriptural baptized. Therefore, you need to be scripturally baptized for the first time. Not only will this result in a scriptural baptism but it will also maintain the continuity of the ordinance and protect it from abuse. Compromise in one aspect of baptism will eventually lead to more compromise. This is why I am pleased the elders in John Piper's church opposed his recommendation.
    We might disagree on whether my view is unconfessional (if that is what you are implying).

    28:1. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world.

    28:2. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.

    29:4. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.
    The confession deals with the proper administration of the sacrement but falls short of declaring that irregular baptisms are to be set at nought. After all, Bunyan recognized both.

    Notice the difference in tone when the confession deals with the Lord's Supper:

    30:8. All ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ, so are they unworthy of the Lord's table, and cannot, without great sin against him, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto; yea, whosoever shall receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
    The confession is pretty darn clear that in the case of the ignorant and ungodly, the sacrement is not only void but worthy of punishment!

    I just wonder, if in the case of a new Christian who doesn't know any better and submits to his Presby church elders in being sprinkled upon profession, that we should just assume that it is not indeed 'a sign of fellowship with Christ'.

    I assure you my stance is not based on a desire to skirt the confession but adhere to what it says and not go beyond.


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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    I guess I should have been more careful in my remarks. It does
    seem that these folks I'm referring to have this mentality... but
    because of the openness to accepting baptism of any kind as valid,
    it can get worse... because then any baptism of a person who was
    previously baptized (credo or paedo) is, by necessity, a re-baptism
    (since the church affirmed the initial baptism the person had, credo or
    paedo). If the individual suddenly comes to the conviction
    that their infant baptism is invalid, they may ask for and receive
    baptism by immersion.

    If, too, it is seen by these churches as an act of obedience only,
    do you think it may be that some people will wind up 'doing it again'
    if they feel the need? After all, if it's only an act of obedience, and
    not a mark of entrance into the visible church, then... all bets seem to
    be off!
    I think the confession provides a safeguard against this in that the focus is always upon the administrator of the sacrement and never on the 'receiver' of the sacrement.

    Also, 29:2 brings repentance, faith and obedience together as one prerequisite.

    29:2 Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.
    IOW, one must not only desire baptism out of obedience, but also out of repentance and faith as well. If a man says, "I want to be rebaptized out of a new found sense of obedience." The pastor should ask what about repentance and faith? If the man says, "I already had those things," then the pastor says, there is no need for another baptism.

    If baptism is a sign of our 'fellowship with Him in His death, burial and resurrection', then it is a sign of our sanctification as well. By definition we are all going to be growing in repentance, faith and obedience. The fact that we grow is confirmation of the event to which that original baptism was a sign! To be baptized over and over really cheapens what the sign signifies.

    BTW, these disagreements that we Baptists have over the proper subjects, timing, mode and administration are not totally different than the Presbys and there disagreements over RC baptisms.
    Last edited by KMK; 06-24-2008 at 09:02 PM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post

    While this mentality would seem to be less common in the Southern Baptist Convention, it does appear to be evident in the way that many churches practice the Lord's Supper. 100 years ago I think close communion would have been the norm for most Baptist churches, but many today practice what amounts to open communion, meaning that they let people come to the table who in their view haven't been scripturally baptized. While this is perhaps becoming the norm today, it really is a rather novel idea in church history. But that's probably a discussion better left another thread.
    Wow! What an insightful observation! While the ABC would have a varied track record with regard to admitting members who had been baptized as infants or by other means than immersion, almost all ABC congregations would practice "open communion."

    As you indicated, this amounts to admitting someone to the table who had not been baptized (according to the implications of Baptist theology, if not the univesal practice).

    Well, there you go, Todd. More reasons to suspect contemporary Baptist practice. It is riddled with enigmas, contradictions, and incoherency! Man, am I glad that the Reformed camp doesn't have any of these pesky problems. All they have are a few minor and insignificant dust-ups (e.g., Clark vs. Van Til, Theonomy vs. Klineans, FV vs. non-FV, EP vs. Hymns, RPW vs. NPW, Amil vs. Post-mil, Supralapsarian vs. Infralapsarian, PCUSA vs. PCA, Women deacons vs. No women deacons, Home school vs. Non home school, TR vs. CT, Presuppositional vs. Classical Apologetics, etc.).
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    MW
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcFadden View Post
    [Man, am I glad that the Reformed camp doesn't have any of these pesky problems.
    We have intramural debates, but nothing of the nature which consigns a large number of our brethren to outer darkness.
    Yours sincerely,
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post

    If, too, it is seen by these churches as an act of obedience only,
    do you think it may be that some people will wind up 'doing it again'
    if they feel the need? After all, if it's only an act of obedience, and
    not a mark of entrance into the visible church, then... all bets seem to
    be off!
    Outside of confessional Baptists (a VERY small sliver of the credo pie), Baptist practice does not lend itself to taking baptism with much integrity. Frankly, in many evangelical credo baptist churches (Baptist and otherwise), ordained pastors are not the only ones who baptize. Other staff members (male and female, ordained and lay) and even the parents of a child do the actual baptizing. So, "all bets seem to be off" would not be an unusual conclusion. Several of my friends officiated at re-baptisms for people who said that they didn't feel anything special from their earlier CREDO baptism!

    ("You ask me how I know he lives . . . he lives within my heart . . .")
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    Ken, I loathe the word re-baptize in the context you used. You are either scripturally baptized (by mode and administration) or you are not. If you are not baptized by an ordained minister of the gospel via immersion you are not scriptural baptized. Therefore, you need to be scripturally baptized for the first time. Not only will this result in a scriptural baptism but it will also maintain the continuity of the ordinance and protect it from abuse. Compromise in one aspect of baptism will eventually lead to more compromise. This is why I am pleased the elders in John Piper's church opposed his recommendation.
    We might disagree on whether my view is unconfessional (if that is what you are implying).

    28:1. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world.

    28:2. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.

    29:4. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.
    The confession deals with the proper administration of the sacrement but falls short of declaring that irregular baptisms are to be set at nought. After all, Bunyan recognized both.

    Notice the difference in tone when the confession deals with the Lord's Supper:

    30:8. All ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ, so are they unworthy of the Lord's table, and cannot, without great sin against him, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto; yea, whosoever shall receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
    The confession is pretty darn clear that in the case of the ignorant and ungodly, the sacrement is not only void but worthy of punishment!

    I just wonder, if in the case of a new Christian who doesn't know any better and submits to his Presby church elders in being sprinkled upon profession, that we should just assume that it is not indeed 'a sign of fellowship with Christ'.

    I assure you my stance is not based on a desire to skirt the confession but adhere to what it says and not go beyond.
    Bunyan's view was unconfessional. He was opposed in his view by several of the more prominent signatories of the 1689.
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  38. #38
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    The confession deals with the proper administration of the sacrement but falls short of declaring that irregular baptisms are to be set at nought. After all, Bunyan recognized both.
    Ken,

    While I have a great deal of respect for Bunyan, I place more weight on the confession. Individuals speak for themselves and may/may not be right on an issue. The 1689 LBC only gives a positive command for the proper administration and mode for the ordinance of baptism. Since there is a clear positive command it would be in keeping with the confession to emphasize such in all cases. Please don't dismiss my earlier comment, when I said (about proper administration and mode):

    Not only will this result in a scriptural baptism but it will also maintain the continuity of the ordinance and protect it from abuse. Compromise in one aspect of baptism will eventually lead to more compromise.
    Regarding your citing of the Lord's Supper:

    ...whosoever shall receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
    The recipient of baptism is adjoining himself to the visible church and giving testimony of being in the invisible church. They are not partaking of the mystery; the body and blood of the Lord. A strong negative command was necessary (regarding the Lord's Supper) because it dealt with individual behavior of a Christian, who was partaking of the mystery. There is no call for a new believer to examine themselves prior to baptism because baptism is supposed to be administered immediately after a credible profession. It is not based on what the new believer does or does not do.

    I just wonder, if in the case of a new Christian who doesn't know any better and submits to his Presby church elders in being sprinkled upon profession, that we should just assume that it is not indeed 'a sign of fellowship with Christ'.
    With all due respect to my Presbyterian brethren, this scenario is not germane to Baptists. If the new Chrsitian is in a Presbyterian church and has submitted to Presbyterian baptism, that is a Presbyterian issue. If this person decides to leave the Presbyterian church and become a Baptist, he should be required to be scripturally baptized.
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  39. #39
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    KMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    The 1689 LBC only gives a positive command for the proper administration and mode for the ordinance of baptism. Since there is a clear positive command it would be in keeping with the confession to emphasize such in all cases.
    I agree, and as an administrator, I immerse when I baptize. But for the layman who was sprinkled upon profession, does that mean that his baptism was not ever a sign of fellowship with Christ? Has he been missing out on the blessings of the sign in the years proceeding his sprinkling because the mode was incorrect?


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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    The 1689 LBC only gives a positive command for the proper administration and mode for the ordinance of baptism. Since there is a clear positive command it would be in keeping with the confession to emphasize such in all cases.
    I agree, and as an administrator, I immerse when I baptize. But for the layman who was sprinkled upon profession, does that mean that his baptism was not ever a sign of fellowship with Christ? Has he been missing out on the blessings of the sign in the years proceeding his sprinkling because the mode was incorrect?
    Ken, mmmm. What do you make of this drive-by comment earlier in this thread?

    We have intramural debates, but nothing of the nature which consigns a large number of our brethren to outer darkness.
    You asked an interesting question:

    Has he been missing out on the blessings of the sign in the years proceeding his sprinkling because the mode was incorrect?
    No. Even if the mode is incorrect it doesn't necessarily follow that an adult convert is missing out on anything. He should be enjoying the fellowship of the saints, the preaching of the word and communion with Christ and the saints in the Lord's Supper. Pastoral counsel and church discipline are there in order to keep the individuals walk with Christ healthy. I quoted Matthew Winzer's quip because the same question can be asked of the children of Baptists. Are they missing out on the blessings of the sign? If they are raised in a home where the parents model Christ, and are consistently exposed to the word of God, what blessing are they missing? I know what the Presbyterian would say, but the Baptist should be able to say (confidently) that their children have the blessing of hearing the gospel, which prayerfully and hopefully will blossom into regeneration by the same Father who calls all of us through Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Bill Brown
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