Baptist churches not true churches?

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galactic reformer

Puritan Board Freshman
The interesting flip side to Dr. Clark's statement is that, if I, as a Presbyterian who was baptized as an infant, were to desire membership at a Baptist church, I would be required to undergo baptism a second time.

Dr. Clark's statement may be in the minority amongst Presbyterians, but the Baptist-exclusivist view regarding Presbyterians is certainly in the majority among credobaptists.

"Kettle? This is Pot. You're black."

Indeed, and thank you.
 

nasa30

Puritan Board Sophomore
Unless I misunderstand, what you just said is in contradiction with most reformed theologians, as well as the WCF. The proper administration of the sacraments has long been regarded as a mark of the true church. I suppose the question is: do Baptists properly administer the sacrament of Baptism? Dr. Clark obviously thinks "no".[/QUOTE]

This is why most Baptist hold to the 1689 LBCF and not the WCF.

Chapter 29: Of Baptism

1. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
( Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2;12; Galatians 3:27; Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:4 )

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.
( Mark 16:16; Acts 8:36, 37; Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12; Acts 18:8 )

3. The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
( Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 8:38 )

4. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance. ( Matthew 3:16; John 3:23 )
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
The interesting flip side to Dr. Clark's statement is that, if I, as a Presbyterian who was baptized as an infant, were to desire membership at a Baptist church, I would be required to undergo baptism a second time.

Dr. Clark's statement may be in the minority amongst Presbyterians, but the Baptist-exclusivist view regarding Presbyterians is certainly in the majority among credobaptists.

"Kettle? This is Pot. You're black."

The difference being that most Baptist churches (at least of the Reformed variety) would not accuse Presbyterians of not being members of a true church.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Does one have to agree with Clark in order to hold office in the URC?
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Bill gets at the heart of the difference. According to the law of non-contradiction A and non-A cannot both be true at the same time and in the same respect. While none of our eschatological views may be correct, it is obvious that they cannot ALL be correct. The incorrect ones are wrong . . . or false. The same would be true of baptism.

While Baptists and Presbyterians may BOTH be incorrect in their views of baptism, they canNOT both be right. At least one side is wrong. To label the wrong one an error or false is not beyond the pale. The dispute comes in what we do with that information. If we are so convinced that we are correct and that disagreement about such is not merely wrong but something that invalidates one's claim to be a church, then Dr. Clark's argument would follow quite reasonably. One could, I suppose, make the same claim about whether one was EP or not EP. Insofar as one MUST be "false," does that error impugn the validity of the church since it would be teaching "falsely"???

Personally, perhaps I'm letting my seminary-of-origin skirt show here, but I am not prepared to brand as that which makes a church "invalid" all things with which I am in disagreement, even strong disagreement.

During most of my ministry, the logic of infant baptism was lost on me. It just seemed like a superstitious hangover from tradition without any solid Biblical warrant. In more recent years, however, the inexorable logic of the covenant has been chipping away at my former position considerably. One of our PB brothers even called me an "erstwhile Baptist" en route to the paedo side. But, whether I am right or wrong on baptism, I do not believe that such difference can be made to invalidate a church, except by a very sectarian reading of "rightly administer." Due to the interconnectedness of all doctrine, one could also argue in the same vein that theological errors regarding eschatology invalidate one's claim to being in a true church since the Word is not being "faithfully" preached if it is admixed to errors, even in eschatology.

[Oh, and for the record (being in the minority obviously doesn't bother me that much), when I pastored in Baptist churches, we accepted Presbyterians upon profession of faith without requiring re-baptism.] And, we ALWAYS encouraged them to partake in communion whether they were members of a Baptist church or some other Christian church.
 
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lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I looked at the original RSC quote and it was one of several comments on a blog thread that perhaps may have been written in haste? The word discipline, assuming he means Matt 18 church discipline, implies that the end result is to treat the person as an unbeliever. Excommunication is a very solemn thing where hopefully the person realizes that he is being treated as an unsaved pagan due to his grievous sin, and must repent.

I find this whole thing to be so wierd.....I mean, would even the most far to the right Reformed paedo think a Baptist is an unsaved pagan? Spurgeon was a pagan? John Piper?


Between that and all the credo remarks recently from National leaders about not serving communion to a paedo, as if the paedo is not fit to partake of the Lord's supper, I do think the holy spirit must be grieved.

DMc I appreciated your posts.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
On subjects like this where emotions can run high, let's be careful not to impute meaning beyond authorial intent to people's statements and actions. For instance, withholding the supper from one (whether rightly or wrongly) does not mean the withholding church does not consider the denied recipient unsaved or a pagan. It simply means ecclesiastical and doctrinal matters prevent formal fellowship. It is similar to a church member being under discipline and not receiving the sacrament for a time.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Here's the funny part. If Dr. Clark's church contacted the wandering member's new "church" and informed them that "so-and-so" was under discipline, and the baptist "church" was actually pretty good and took discipline seriously, it would be faced with an interesting set of choices:
1. Disband because OURC doesn't think well of them
2. Discipline someone for coming to their "church"
3. Congratulate the wandering member on a fortunate escape
4. Rebuke OURC for sectarianism
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Here's the funny part. If Dr. Clark's church contacted the wandering member's new "church" and informed them that "so-and-so" was under discipline, and the baptist "church" was actually pretty good and took discipline seriously, it would be faced with an interesting set of choices:
1. Disband because OURC doesn't think well of them
2. Discipline someone for coming to their "church"
3. Congratulate the wandering member on a fortunate escape
4. Rebuke OURC for sectarianism

Ruben, make this a poll and we can have some fun with it!
 

IanAdams

Puritan Board Freshman
Ouch. But, despite the views held by a very small minority I pray that Churches do not practice this type of 'discrimination'. And before the rest of my Baptist brethren jump up in arms, I have heard this type of criticism leveled at paedobaptists in the past. We have often hosted brothers and sisters in our church who were not Baptist and we have always welcomed them at the communion table and embraced them as fellow believers.
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
According to what Dr. Clark says, would a Lutheran church be a false church? Lutheran churches baptize infants, but they believe in baptismal regeneration.
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
Does one have to agree with Clark in order to hold office in the URC?

No. In fact, there are a variety of opinions on this question in the URCNA. I say that, not as someone who belongs to the URC, but who observes fairly closely.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
If baptist churches are no true churches, than their baptism can also not be valid ?

Without getting too involved -- The above statement would not follow, for the same reason that Roman Catholic baptisms were historically accepted by the Reformed churches. How much more the baptism of those who preach the true gospel!

Not in U.S. South. It was quite the opposite. See Thornwell & Co.

The validity of Roman baptisms was the subject of both a majority

PCA Position Papers: Baptism - Appendix P - Report of the Study Committee on Question Relating to the Validity of Certain Baptisms (1987)

and minority report

PCA Position Papers: Minority Report from the Committee to Study the Validity of Certain Baptisms (1987)

to the 1987 PCA GA.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
Does one have to agree with Clark in order to hold office in the URC?

No. In fact, there are a variety of opinions on this question in the URCNA. I say that, not as someone who belongs to the URC, but who observes fairly closely.

As a member of the URC, I can say that I've never heard of anyone taking that position until I read it from Clark. Doesn't mean others don't hold to it, but based on my experience, I would suspect it's a tiny minority. As an officebearer, I can say, no, one need not agree with Clark to hold office. I would think the reverse would be the norm--taking Clark's position would engender questions on an officebearer's grasp of the Belgic and/or the WCF.

An uncomfortable corrolary question arises from this as well: if Baptist churches are not true churches, could we even call Baptists "Christians"?
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Why don't we just say that there are no true churches anymore and be done with it?

Theognome

Does that mean I'll have to get a real job and start working for a living?

-----Added 6/15/2009 at 07:52:28 EST-----

Actually, I find the position somewhat consistent. But, as has been stated, it's a moot point in some regard. If someone left for a Baptist church then they considered the Baptist church a more biblical model and shouldn't be affected. And many Baptist churches won't recognize any baptism other than believer's as acceptable for membership, which I consider consistent as well. Having said that, I'd much rather attend a good Presbyterian church than a bad Baptist one.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
An uncomfortable corrolary question arises from this as well: if Baptist churches are not true churches, could we even call Baptists "Christians"?

Oh boy........[que scary music]

Somehow, I believe this has already been exhausted here on Puritan Bored [sic].

The issue would not be soteriologic. One can be a true believer even in a erring church. For the record, the Westminster divines acknowledged the baptism by Credo baptists as valid.

~Note to self, when thinking theologically, beware the corners of the room.

*I am in no way agreeing w/ Dr. Clark
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
Scott, I am right there with you, brother. We have been there and done that and both have the scars to prove it.
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
As someone who finds himself in basic agreement with Dr. Clark, I first want to plead with participants in this thread to speak with care and Christian kindness. As other wise PBers have already counseled, please refrain from making declarations about the character of those who hold to this position.

As to the actual doctrinal position itself, I believe that it is consistent with the teaching of the Scriptures and the Three Forms of Unity. If the pure administration of the sacraments is a mark of the true church, then Baptist congregations fail the test from the paedobaptist Reformed perspective. From our viewpoint, Baptist congregations attempt to exclude innumerable members of Christ's body from the sacraments and the body of Christ.

(I hate to have to make this kind of cliche statement but... some of my best friends are Baptists and my entire side of the family is Baptist. This is not a position I find myself naturally inclined to hold.)
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
If the pure administration of the sacraments is a mark of the true church...

If 'pure' administration is a mark of a true church, then indeed, there is no such thing.

Even the Divines admitted that there was the possibility of error without negating benefits of the sacraments. In the Directory of Public Worship, they encourage the pastor to pray this after the Lord's Supper:

to entreat for pardon for the defects of the whole service,
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
As someone who finds himself in basic agreement with Dr. Clark, I first want to plead with participants in this thread to speak with care and Christian kindness. As other wise PBers have already counseled, please refrain from making declarations about the character of those who hold to this position.

As to the actual doctrinal position itself, I believe that it is consistent with the teaching of the Scriptures and the Three Forms of Unity. If the pure administration of the sacraments is a mark of the true church, then Baptist congregations fail the test from the paedobaptist Reformed perspective. From our viewpoint, Baptist congregations attempt to exclude innumerable members of Christ's body from the sacraments and the body of Christ.

(I hate to have to make this kind of cliche statement but... some of my best friends are Baptists and my entire side of the family is Baptist. This is not a position I find myself naturally inclined to hold.)

Bryan, it's not personal; at least not for me. I happen to believe it's theology run amok. I mentioned this next comment of mine years ago in a similar thread. What do we get if Presbyterians consider Baptists not to be members of a true church and Baptists view Presbyterians the same way? Both sides pat each other on the back, convinced that they rightly administer the sacraments, and believe they are a true church. It's for this reason that the PB is an enigma among Reformed types. There are many PB'ers that would normally not interact with those who hold to opposing theological views; such as Baptists and Presbyterians. The PB is sort of a melting pot. Outside of this place we usually keep time with like minded folks.

I'm not all offended by Scott Clark's comments. I would rather this type of thing be said in the open for all to hear (or read). I dismiss the notion that either denomination fails at being a true church. As others have brought up previously, can anyone guarantee me that their church is without error in every point of doctrine? And if error exists, could it not negate that church's claim to be true? In my humble opinion it's a slippery slope that begins with the slightest of pushes and has no definite end. That Scott Clark threatens church discipline against any OURC member who leaves for a Baptist church is quite humorous. My dear brother, and fellow moderator, Ruben saw the comic value in that statement.

My advice (to all) is to concentrate on those things that lead to personal holiness and service to the saints. In this way each of us will glorify God in our lives. If we become convicted as to our baptismal position, so be it. Act in accordance with conscience and extend liberty to your brother who disagrees.
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
If the pure administration of the sacraments is a mark of the true church...

If 'pure' administration is a mark of a true church, then indeed, there is no such thing.

Even the Divines admitted that there was the possibility of error without negating benefits of the sacraments. In the Directory of Public Worship, they encourage the pastor to pray this after the Lord's Supper:

to entreat for pardon for the defects of the whole service,

I was directly quoting the Belgic Confession on the "pure" administration of the sacraments. I don't believe that "pure" in this context means that the administration is free from all human error, just that it is substantively the true and proper administration of the sacraments.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
What about Baptist churches that have no infants? Would they be considered a true church right up until that first baby is born?
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
I was on my new little gadget when I posted above. (It is a pain to type on, but I like it:) ) And couldn't fully post what I wanted. Scott Bushey's comments are not something to be dismissed. Many of you weren't on the PB when this discussion came to full fruition. It was intense to say the least. It also was damaging. In some cases seriously damaging. Now, lest anyone say that I'm pulling a 'why can't we all just get along' let me say that I am a convinced credobaptist. I think it is error to baptise infants. I'm not wishy washy on that. That is not to start a debate. Just so you know that I do have standards of doctrine and practice.

Yes, the PB is an anomaly; and a good one. It exists with an underlying tension that occasionally becomes very visible. That tension can serve to sharpen us, but it can also damage us if it bursts forth unchecked.

The line of thinking in the OP, with all respect, is fundamentalism. It leads to a continual contraction of orthodoxy. Left unchecked you may well find yourself the only one left on the planet that is 'orthodox'. Don't laugh. I've seen it happen. And, I've seen it happen more than once. Fundamentalism takes many forms, and it is always dangerous and destructive. The Reformers knew this and took safeguards against it. But, as is often the case, their children and grandchildren did not.

Please hear my heart on this matter. Discuss orthodoxy, discuss sacraments / ordinances, discuss orthopraxy but, please, if someone holds to an historic confession that differs from yours do not make the step of saying that their faith is in vain, their church is not a true church, etc. It does no good. None at all.

If I've offended you by this post, it is not my intention. I've just seen too much blood shed on this issue, both on the net and in real life. I don't want to see it again.
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
Bryan, it's not personal; at least not for me. I happen to believe it's theology run amok. I mentioned this next comment of mine years ago in a similar thread. What do we get if Presbyterians consider Baptists not to be members of a true church and Baptists view Presbyterians the same way? Both sides pat each other on the back, convinced that they rightly administer the sacraments, and believe they are a true church. It's for this reason that the PB is an enigma among Reformed types. There are many PB'ers that would normally not interact with those who hold to opposing theological views; such as Baptists and Presbyterians. The PB is sort of a melting pot. Outside of this place we usually keep time with like minded folks.
I am very happy to be part of the PuritanBoard, but I don't view my membership as an extension of ecclesiastical fellowship and recognition to all of its members. For me, it is a valuable discussion board, but not a congregation of Christ.
I'm not all offended by Scott Clark's comments. I would rather this type of thing be said in the open for all to hear (or read). I dismiss the notion that either denomination fails at being a true church. As others have brought up previously, can anyone guarantee me that their church is without error in every point of doctrine? And if error exists, could it not negate that church's claim to be true? In my humble opinion it's a slippery slope that begins with the slightest of pushes and has no definite end. That Scott Clark threatens church discipline against any OURC member who leaves for a Baptist church is quite humorous. My dear brother, and fellow moderator, Ruben saw the comic value in that statement.
Do you agree that we have to distinguish the true church from the false church? I worry that this sort of slippery slope argument might also easily be used in reference to the egalitarian debate or any other number of such controversies.
My advice (to all) is to concentrate on those things that lead to personal holiness and service to the saints. In this way each of us will glorify God in our lives. If we become convicted as to our baptismal position, so be it. Act in accordance with conscience and extend liberty to your brother who disagrees.

I believe that the administration of the sacraments is crucial to personal (and corporate) holiness and service to the saints. This is why I cannot extend liberty to others on this matter.
 

Reformed Thomist

Puritan Board Sophomore
In any case, the argument...

1. It is a mark of a true church that P;

2. Church Q does not P;

Therefore,

3. Church Q is not a true church

... is fallacious. Specifically, the argument is an instance of the No true Scotsman logical fallacy. We can easily re-state the argument as follows...

1. All true churches practice paedobaptism;

Therefore,

2. Credobaptist churches are not true churches

OR...

A: "All churches practice paedobaptism."

B: "Baptist churches do not practice paedobaptism."

A: "Well, no true church would fail to practice paedobaptism."

This fallacy is a form of circular argument, with an existing belief being assumed to be true in order to dismiss any apparent counter-examples to it. The existing belief thus becomes unfalsifiable.

The fallacy is in moving the boundaries of the category in question, so that what you want to say about this category becomes true by definition, and no evidence can ever prove you wrong. All true churches are paedobaptist, because no church that does not practice paedobaptism is allowed to count as a true church.
 
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