Baptist churches not true churches?

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Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
What about Baptist churches that have no infants? Would they be considered a true church right up until that first baby is born?

They still exclude infants by their confession and deny the covenant membership of infants in other congregations of Christ.

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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

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.

I'm not sure if I understand your reasoning here. Are you under the impression that I blindly assume that paedobaptism is a mark of the true church without Scriptural testimony? I assure you that I am so convinced by what I see as the firm testimony of the Scriptures.

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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.

I appreciate your position, but please refrain from judging the convictions mentioned in the OP as fundamentalism. Such criticism could be easily extended to all those who have stood their ground against the egalitarian tides of modern evangelicalism. Why are gender issues considered to be the breaking point and the sacraments secondary matters?
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
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.

Bryan,

I am narrowing my comments directly to the topic being discussed, namely the administration of baptism as defining a true church. I am sure we would be agreed on other doctrinal errors that call into question whether or not a church is true. But as far as the credo/paedo debate goes, I am not willing to call the other side "not" a true church. This does not mean that I approve of the other view. I certainly do not. I have actively taught against it, and will continue to do so. But disagreement in this area does not relegate the other side to paganism, or worse.
 

Reformed Thomist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm not sure if I understand your reasoning here. Are you under the impression that I blindly assume that paedobaptism is a mark of the true church without Scriptural testimony? I assure you that I am so convinced by what I see as the firm testimony of the Scriptures.

I'm under the impression that you are being unrealistic by excluding, by definition, non-paedobaptist churches from 'true church'-dom. You are trying to preserve some unrealistic ideal of what a church is, which simply does not stand up to the facts.

Furthermore, Baptists aren't Baptists because they are not "so convinced by what [they] see as the firm testimony of the Scriptures."
 

kalawine

Puritan Board Junior
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."

AMEN my brother! As an ex-Baptist I can say a hearty AMEN! In my experience (and realizing that my experience isn't everyone's experience) it is BAPTISTS that are much more concerned about the issue of Baptism than we are. My PCA friends and fellow Church members seem to be quite content with their own views without being concerned about other's views. But I have Baptists friends who seem to think that it is a major issue - even to the point of whether or not to fellowship with others.
 
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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?

They still exclude infants by their confession and deny the covenant membership of infants in other congregations of Christ.

So, any church that does not agree your children are in the covenant, is not a true church. Does this mean that Presbyterian churches who deny RC baptism do not believe those that do accept RC baptism are true churches?
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
Bryan,
I do not believe that the label of fundamentalism could be applied to 'all those who have stood their ground against the egalitarian tides of modern evangelicalism.' And, I neither stated nor implied that. Neither did I state nor imply that you, Dr. Clark, or others were fundamentalists. I stated that the type, or line, of thinking is fundamentalism. There is a difference there. Most likely all of us have areas in our rubric of belief in which we must battle fundamentalist tendencies. (And, there are far more issues in that battle than the roles of the sexes, btw.) I don't see how this little debate even falls within the realm of the 'egalitarian tides of modern evangelicalism'. Reformed / Particular Baptists are an historic fact of the church. They are not modern, they are not 'evangelical' in the popular sense of the word.

Frankly, I find it amazing that men who each revere the Word of God, trust God completely for salvation, lean upon Him to guide him into the Truth and proper understanding, long to live a holy life, and yet come to differing conclusions regarding the mode and timing of baptism could on that one issue write off the other as unregenerate. That is were this thinking leads. And, no, I'm not overstating it. You may not believe that, but it does go there.

I'm not in this to debate. I am just pleading for caution.
 
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Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
I'm under the impression that you are being unrealistic by excluding, by definition, non-paedobaptist churches from 'true church'-dom. You are trying to preserve some unrealistic ideal of what a church is, which simply does not stand up to the facts.
"Realistic expectations" applied to the sinful covenant people of God as considered apart from the Spirit's work leave us with no hope at all. Let's keep the debate centered on the requirements of the Scriptures.
Furthermore, Baptists aren't Baptists because they are not "so convinced by what [they] see as the firm testimony of the Scriptures."
I believe it. I used to be Baptist.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I have not read all of the posts, but I would say that flatly declaring that Baptists are not members of the true church are not in accord with the Westminster Confession. Of course, that does not bind those who hold to other confessional standards.

The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all... And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them...The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error....
 

christianyouth

Puritan Board Senior
How about asking them to prove that improper administration of the sacrament makes a church false?

This should be interesting, lol.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
The line of thinking in the OP, with all respect, is fundamentalism.

Could you define your use of 'fundamentalism' here?

He defined it pretty well in his earlier post, Ken. Also, note that he didn't say that fundamentalism is the verdict. He said that this "line of thinking" is fundamentalism, and admitted that we all have such tendencies in some aspect of our theology.
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
Bryan,
I do not believe that the label of fundamentalism could be applied to 'all those who have stood their ground against the egalitarian tides of modern evangelicalism.' And, I neither state nor implied that. Neither did I state nor imply that your, Dr. Clark, or others were fundamentalists. I stated that the type, or line, of thinking is fundamentalism. There is a difference there. Most likely all of us have areas in our rubric of belief in which we must battle fundamentalist tendencies. (And, there are far more issues in that battle than the roles of the sexes, btw.) I don't see how this little debate even falls within the realm of the 'egalitarian tides of modern evangelicalism'. Reformed / Particular Baptists are an historic fact of the church. They are not modern, they are not 'evangelical' in the popular sense of the word.

Frankly, I find it amazing that men who each revere the Word of God, trust God completely for salvation, lean upon Him to guide him into the Truth and proper understanding, long to live a holy life, and yet come to differing conclusions regarding the mode and timing of baptism could on that one issue write off the other as unregenerate. That is were this thinking leads. And, no, I'm not overstating it. You may not believe that, but it does go there.

I'm not in this to debate. I am just pleading for caution.

I might perhaps be more comfortable if you cautioned that this line of thinking could easily become fundamentalist in nature. I bring up debates such as gender issues because I know that there are men such as Roger Nicole who display many Christian virtues in their lives, godliness in their walk, and some great insights into God's Word in their writings but genuinely hold egalitarian views they believe are taught in the Scriptures (again, I have been there). From my viewpoint, I am confused why the gender issue appears to be a dividing line in conservative Reformed while the sacraments are made a subject of Christian liberty.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Part of the problem with that, Bryan, is that Scripture explicitly states that wives are to submit to their husbands and that an elder must rule his house well. Nowhere does Scripture explicitly state that infants should be baptized. You might argue that it's necessary and clear. But, regardless, it's not explicit. Regardless of whether one is credo or paedo, the comparison falls short of credibility.
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
Part of the problem with that, Bryan, is that Scripture explicitly states that wives are to submit to their husbands and that an elder must rule his house well. Nowhere does Scripture explicitly state that infants should be baptized. You might argue that it's necessary and clear. But, regardless, it's not explicit. Regardless of whether one is credo or paedo, the comparison falls short of credibility.

Joe, I understand how you can argue this as a Baptist. However, I do not understand how a confessionally Reformed paedobaptist can endorse this reasoning. I believe that the Scriptures are as firmly clear concerning paedobaptism as they are concerning biblical gender roles. Furthermore, I believe that this is the historic Reformed paedobaptist position.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The line of thinking in the OP, with all respect, is fundamentalism.

Could you define your use of 'fundamentalism' here?

He defined it pretty well in his earlier post, Ken. Also, note that he didn't say that fundamentalism is the verdict. He said that this "line of thinking" is fundamentalism, and admitted that we all have such tendencies in some aspect of our theology.

I am not arguing with Lawrence at all. I, in all sincerity, have no idea what this word means anymore. This is what he wrote:


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.

Is fundamentalism a 'continual contraction of orthodoxy'? That is not the way I usually hear the word used. Doesn't it have something to do with fundamental doctrines and Jerry Falwell and all that?
 

Craig

Puritan Board Senior
From my viewpoint, I am confused why the gender issue appears to be a dividing line in conservative Reformed while the sacraments are made a subject of Christian liberty.

It just so happens that egalitarianism is the big idol that needs destroying within the Church today.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Folks, I'm up for watching a bunch of frustrated light middleweight theologs spar a few rounds as much as anyone. HOWEVER, please note that much of the discussion in this thread is beside the point to the PB. I think that we can assume that both paedo and credo practioners can be members of valid churches (with respect to the requirements of this board at least) since the confessional requirements call for Christians who are members of valid churches who MUST hold to . . . either the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, the Second Helvetic Confession, or the LBCF to be approved for membership without a waiver. Evidently the Presbyterian owners of the site (former Baptists as a matter of fact) can disagree STRONGLY with the refusal of Baptists to admit to covenant standing the children of believers and still consider them to be both believers and subscribers to a biblically defensible (albeit incorrect from their point of view) confession.

My comment earlier this morning, only partly tongue in cheek, about reaction formation helps explain why former adherents to a position are typically the most passionate about opposing it (cf. ex-alcoholics, ex-Mormons, ex-Catholics, ex-obese folks, ex-smokers, ex-bubble gum chewers, ex-whatever). Somebody probably needs to do a PhD on what it is in the "ex" that produces such strong feelings!

As a lifelong Baptist who has been reading lots of paedo books the last couple of years, my respect for both positions is pretty equivalent. Good orthodox, inerrantist, brethren can be found on both sides of this issue. I will not fuss at those who draw their lines differently than I do, but I cannot relegate them to the ranks of the unregenerate either. We share the doctrines of grace, an identical view of the authority of scripture, a heart-felt stand against the liberalism of the mainline denominations and the willy nilly experientialism of the Pentecostals, and much more. While I understand the logic of those who withhold communion from people in the other camp, it does not resonate with me at all.

At this stage of my life, I'm more concerned about building bridges than burning them.
 
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tellville

Puritan Board Junior
I think Presbyterian and Baptist churches which follow their respective confessions are both true churches. :eek:

I find it funny how in the real world most people view me as a hardcore calvinistic conservative fundy but here on the Puritianboard I would be considered a flaming godless liberal :lol:
 

A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
Folks, I'm up for watching a bunch of frustrated light middleweight theologs spar a few rounds as much as anyone. HOWEVER, please note that much of the discussion in this thread is beside the point to the PB. I think that we can assume that both paedo and credo practioners can be members of valid churches (with respect to the requirements of this board at least) since the confessional requirements call for Christians who are members of valid churches who MUST hold to . . . either the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, the Second Helvetic Confession, or the LBCF to be approved for membership without a waiver. Evidently the Presbyterian owners of the site (former Baptists as a matter of fact) can disagree STRONGLY with the refusal of Baptists to admit to covenant standing the children of believers and still consider them to be both believers and subscribers to a biblically defensible (albeit incorrect from their point of view) confession.

My comment earlier this morning, only partly tongue in cheek, about reaction formation helps explain why former adherents to a position are typically the most passionate about opposing it (cf. ex-alcoholics, ex-Mormons, ex-Catholics, ex-obese folks, ex-smokers, ex-bubble gum chewers, ex-whatever). Somebody probably needs to do a PhD on what it is in the "ex" that produces such strong feelings!

As a lifelong Baptist who has been reading lots of paedo books the last couple of years, my respect for both positions is pretty equivalent. Good orthodox, inerrantist, brethren can be found on both sides of this issue. I will not fuss at those who draw their lines differently than I do, but I cannot relegate them to the ranks of the unregenerate either. We share the doctrines of grace, an identical view of the authority of scripture, a shared stand against the liberalism of the mainline denominations and the willy nilly experientialism of the Pentecostals, and much more. While I understand the logic of those who withhold communion from people in the other camp, it does not resonate with me at all.

At this stage of my life, I'm more concerned about building bridges than burning them.

So when are you going to make the switch? :lol:

Thanks for sharing. I know of a Reformed Baptist pastor who would classify the pure preaching of the Word as the essential mark of a true church, while the pure adminstration of the sacraments and church discipline as maintaining marks. In this view, orthodox paedobaptist/Presbyterian churches are true churches. But since they practice infant baptism, it is believed that paedoabaptists will compromise the purity of the church over time. The last statement of course presupposes the Baptist view of the church as a community of regenerate individuals only. Though many paedobaptist Christians will disagree with me, I still believe that gospel-preaching Baptist churches (especially 1689 LBCF Baptist ones) are true churches though they are not as Biblically ordered and governed as they ought to be.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
So when are you going to make the switch? :lol:

Lane Keister (Greenbaggins) keeps asking me the same question. :lol: Honestly, I don't know if I will ever be able to "make the switch." The Baptist arguments for a regenerate membership and the absence of a clear biblical warrant for baptizing infants weighs on me heavily as does the seamless fabric of the covenant argument in favor of infant baptism and inclusion in the covenant community.

However, given the relative paucity of Reformed Baptist churches, I will probably be joining a PCA church during my retirement years. Enough broad evangelicalism for me!
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
So when are you going to make the switch? :lol:

Lane Keister (Greenbaggins) keeps asking me the same question. :lol: Honestly, I don't know if I will ever be able to "make the switch." The Baptist arguments for a regenerate membership and the absence of a clear biblical warrant for baptizing infants weighs on me heavily as does the seamless fabric of the covenant argument in favor of infant baptism and inclusion in the covenant community.

However, given the relative paucity of Reformed Baptist churches, I will probably be joining a PCA church during my retirement years. Enough broad evangelicalism for me!

Dennis,
As you seem to be still considering the matter may I ask if you have given a careful examination of Fred Malone's the Baptism of Disciples Alone, A Covenantal Argument for Credobaptism Versus Paedobaptism? Dr. Malone a former Presbyterian minister is now a Baptist pastor.
 

Ivan

Pastor
[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.

Amen, Dennis!

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Next they'll be saying Baptists aren't proper Calvinists.

Oh, I've already heard that here...from Dr. Clark.

-----Added 6/16/2009 at 03:58:46 EST-----

I'd much rather attend a good Presbyterian church than a bad Baptist one.

Amen, brother!

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At this stage of my life, I'm more concerned about building bridges than burning them.

And again I say AMEN, Dennis!

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However, given the relative paucity of Reformed Baptist churches, I will probably be joining a PCA church during my retirement years. Enough broad evangelicalism for me!

I can understand that, Dennis. If necessary, I'll do the same thing.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Dennis,
As you seem to be still considering the matter may I ask if you have given a careful examination of Fred Malone's the Baptism of Disciples Alone, A Covenantal Argument for Credobaptism Versus Paedobaptism? Dr. Malone a former Presbyterian minister is now a Baptist pastor.

After he reads that, he'll definitely jump ship...it was among the worst baptistic argumentation I had read. It actually helped solidify my switch...:think: Also, he was a Baptist who went Presbyterian., who returned to Baptist.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I think this thread has run its course. Thanks to everyone for their mature participation in what could have been a volatile topic.
 
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