Baptists and Their Children

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Jan 6, 2018.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is primarily for the Baptists:

    I have a friend who wants to be consistent with his Baptist views, and it sure shows in how he views his children.
    1. He won't let them pray.
    2. They don't confess their sins to God, but to the parents only.
    3. They can't sing worship songs.

    These are just a few of the points. So if he allows his children to do these things, then they would be acting as Christians and therefore would need to be treated as Christians. As I said, he wants to be consistent.

    To me, this is very sad. Even Jesus taught to not hinder the children from coming to Him. What if they truly do have faith? They are being hindered. If they have nightmares, they can't come to the Lord in prayer for comfort. They can't rest on the promises of the Bible. They can't delight in singing to their God, etc.

    Is this a bad representation of Baptists? If so, why?

  2. Beezer

    Beezer Puritan Board Freshman

    I've never met any Christians who treat their children this way. What sort of Baptist fellowship is your friend associated with?
  3. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    I recently read a little book about J. C. Philpot (a leader among the Gospel Standard Baptists). He had very much the same philosophy about child-rearing.
  4. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Here is the quote about Philpot. Note that it was written by his son.
    There was nothing, I should mention, that he mistrusted more than infant piety. For long he was opposed to Sunday schools, till he had to give way before the general consensus of his followers. But he did not cease to insist that children should never be taught or allowed to use the language of appropriation, to sing, for instance, 'Rock of ages, cleft for me'; or, 'My Jesus hath done all things well'. Herein he was quite logical. For though by early influence and example you can bring up a child to be a little patriot, a little Catholic, a little Calvinist, a little Bolshevist, and perhaps even a little 'citizen of the world', no power on earth, he would have maintained, can make him a child of God unless his name has been written in the Lamb's book of life. He took care that we, his children, attended the means of grace, and never missed chapel or family prayers, but he did not expect us to be anything but little heathen. (Philpot, J.H., The Seceders. Banner of Truth Trust. 160-161).
    In my opinion, his imbalance was clearly rooted in his weak covenant theology.
  5. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I guess the question is, how is this practice wrong for a Baptist? It should be the standard, right? If the children are unbelievers, the bible teaches that the prayers of the ungodly are an abomination to Him, so they rightly shouldn't be able to pray. If the children are taking part of the means of grace, and are being discipled, then there is no reason why they shouldn't be counted as God's people and be in the church.

    Any thoughts? Thanks.
  6. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    Baptists and Presbyterians alike do not pretend to know whether a man is a 'believer' or 'unbeliever'. They judge the credibility of a profession of faith. Therefore, both deny baptism to those who do not have a credible profession of faith. (For a Presbyterian infant it is the confession of one of the parents that is judged.)

    As for prayer, the church holds only those keys of heaven which were instituted for the church. Prayer is not something that belongs exclusively to the church, or the state, or the family. Although the church, the state, and the family are encouraged to engage in corporate prayer, the majority of Scripture insists on sincere personal prayer. For anyone, in any station, to deny a person their God-given right to personal prayer, is in violation of the 5th Commandment.

    I doubt that is what your Baptist friend is doing.
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I once met a man who forbade his children from praying , "our Father, who art in heaven.." because he could not be sure whether God was, in fact, their father in heaven. He was a Reformed Baptist.

    This seems very foolish to me. I have met maybe 2 people my whole life who has expressed this view and so I would say it is not a consistent baptist view.

    Even though baptists do not presume their children are elect, we must admit that there are many promises to the children of believers such that we should ordinarily expect them to believe and also that all mankind have God as their father even if not in a salvific sense and it is appropriate (and commanded) that all men everywhere ought to pray.

    To forbid confession and prayer to God is sinful on the part of this parent.

    When comparing the sin of praying as an unbeliever versus the greater sin of not praying as an unbeliever the sin of praying as an unbeliever is far overshadowed by the heinousness of being a prayerless unbeliever.
  8. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    I’ll come out and say I had difficulty with singing ”Jesus loves me” to my girls. Didn’t seem consistent with the idea that children are outside the Covenant. Even to teach them to pray “our Father” seemed strange too. After all, they are in no covenant with God and don’t have a credible profession, and being born to Christian parents does nothing, and they are not Holy on our account, so wouldn’t teaching them to pray in this way be presumptuous? “Our Father” implies a relationship that an unbeliever or a covenant outsider does not have, and all the rest of the prayer is longings and desires that only a true Christian could have. God is in a real way a father to all, but can an unbeliever pray it in the way intended here? If I heard an unbeliever praying this, one who showed plainly he was unconverted and no signs of repentance, I’d probably burn inside rather than rejoice, as God says in Psalm 50, “What right have you to recite my Law or take my covenant on your lips?”

    Promises? Many of them yes, but hearing Baptists admit this seems to admit the premises of the Paedos, as many of the promises are given in covenantal context (Deut 30:6, Jer 32, as just a few examples). The most encouraging and illustrious ones come in the passages about the New Covenant.

    If there’s any passage that fries Philpot’s sacred cow it’s Jesus saying, “Let the children come unto me and do not hinder them, for to such belong the kingdom of heaven.”

    If anyone wonders, I am teaching my daughter to pray “our Father,” and I have no issues with “Jesus loves me.”
  9. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Ah, Harley, what a blessing you are experiencing! I rejoice to read about it!

    This from one who went to WTS as a Reformed Baptist and came properly to understand the implications of covenant theology. I will say that in the church that I was reared in, we might sing "Jesus Loves Me," or the like, in Sunday School, and yet, there was always the sense, both from my parents and the pulpit of "not really."

    In a variety of ways it was made clear, in my particular context, that unless and until one experienced a "crisis-conversion" (usually after a false one or two and a lengthy period of "awakening"), it was presumption to sing or pray in the way reserved for those who had such experiences and who could give a proper "narrative of grace" relating the same. None of this is even slightly exaggerated and appears less disturbing in this simple retelling than it actually was.

    Press on in the way of the covenant of grace and its promises, brother Harley!

  10. Beezer

    Beezer Puritan Board Freshman

    I've been thinking about this issue since reading it last night. I think the Christian (Baptist) who is prohibiting his children from praying to God, confessing to God, and singing to God is doing unintentional harm to his children and I would not consider this approach normative/consistent for a Christian parent who holds to Baptist views. I personally have never encountered this view and if I'm understanding the circumstances correctly it seems like this person has elevated prayer, confession, and singing to church ordinances (baptism and the Lord's supper) that only one who has a credible profession of faith can participate in.

    I'm wrestling with some of the comments that have been made so far. I suppose part of the issue on my part is understanding the nature of the new covenant and who has the privilege/right to approach God in prayer, confession, and singing. I'll need to study this longer to give a response that is more than just my opinion.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  11. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    It does seem consistent to me. I notice a few people in this thread have had or continue to have or be confused about the raising of children on this topic who were or are from the baptist perspective. That should, in my mind, raise some red flags and bring about questions: why is this a common problem amongst baptists?
  12. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I would give this to your friend:

    ( Don't let the title throw you)

    I find his stance to be awful. How can he claim that his child of two or three or five does not have simple faith and trust in the Lord? Beware of putting stumbling blocks in front of children.
  13. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    The original post made me think of millstones.
  14. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dr. Strange I almost can’t believe I’m saying all of this because I never thought I’d see paedobaptism as credible, nevertheless so wonderful, but so far it’s the Word bringing me to think this way. Thank you for your encouragement.

    I’ll throw on another cow to fry, but what goes hand in hand with this view of discipleship is the delay of baptism until a certain minimum age. In some churches it can be age 16. To quote one RB pastor who will remain anonymous, the reason at his church has been that many professed faith at a young age, been baptized, and apostatized at 18 (end quote). It’s a serious thing since children living at home don’t face the rigors of the world like they do when they leave, and so it’s easy to profess to be one, but the reality of the profession only becomes apparent when the kid leaves the house. So, if only those with true faith get baptized, then in RB circles a young child will likely never see baptism until they are effectively adults. So, few or no kids baptized.

    My experience in RB circles is not wide, but I’ve only known two children below age sixteen to be baptized. With both it was quite apparent they wer the real thing, though others usually have to wait it out. For what my wife tells me, it’s a painful thing for a child who professes faith and may have the real thing, but because of this age minimum they have to be such-and-such years old.

    It seems that the underlying assumption is that the child’s profession is not credible simply because of age, which almost amounts to saying they can’t be disciples until a certain age. Maybe that’s not intended,but it’s the logical conclusion, and I can say that because the logic worked for me. The unwillingness to let them sing or pray or confess to God, and the suspicion of allowing baptism of a professing child, seem to have the same root. Either way, isn’t this hindering the children?
  15. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    I have so many friends in the OPC, URC, PCA, and other churches in GR: I am sure that any of them would be glad to see you!

    I was not baptized until 18, because one has to live a bit before having that sort of spiritual experience (as I described). And even then, many people marveled that "one so young" was being baptized!

    And as for the switch to paedo-baptist, mine too came about largely through Scripture and its exposition (my "conversion" happened at Sinclair Ferguson's, with whom I then lived, as he held forth in his kitchen on Acts 2:39).

  16. E.R. CROSS

    E.R. CROSS Puritan Board Freshman

    To my knowledge, I have never encountered the types of things that are being tossed around as normative Reformed Baptist practice and belief.
  17. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I haven't seen anyone say that these things are a universal practice among Baptists or anything approaching it. I was baptist for most of my life and have never seen it either. However, the practice does exist and the question being posed is whether this is a consistent application of Baptist principles and it causes one to wonder whether the majority of baptists who encourage their unbaptized children to pray are being inconsistent.

    Given that it would seem to be the height of wicked presumption to come before the throne of God in prayer and address the creator of the universe as one's father while being an unbeliever and apart from the mediatorial work of Christ and the covenant of grace, shouldn't unbaptized children be discouraged from attempting this? If I were still a baptist I think that I would struggle mightily with this. I would never encourage an unbelieving adult to pray to or speak of God as his father.
  18. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    As for me, I would never claim that the experiences that I've recounted were normative.

    They did happen, however, and they correspond to the question(s) posed in the thread. If you wish to dismiss them as aberrant or so singular as to be irrelevant, you are certainly free to do so.

    But it must be of more than passing interest that Ryan has found several people who can identify with his concerns and either know of someone who has, or have themselves, experienced something of what he describes.

  19. Beezer

    Beezer Puritan Board Freshman

    This is unrelated to whether the individual in the OP is being consistent to his Baptist principles or not...I'm curious what your thoughts are on allowing an unbelieving child who was baptized as an infant to approach the same throne of God in prayer. If the unbelieving child is encouraged to pray due to the sign and seal they received in covenantal infant baptism would you one day discourage them at a certain age from praying when they continue to show no signs of being a believer? You said you would never encourage an unbelieving adult to pray to or speak to God as his father (nor would I)...what if that unbelieving adult was baptized as an infant in a Presbyterian Church? Does the unbelieving adult in this case ever lose his/her covenant sign and seal when he/she is unregenerate and still dead in their trespasses and sins?

    Thanks in advance for any views/opinions shared! I appreciate it.
  20. E.R. CROSS

    E.R. CROSS Puritan Board Freshman

    Fair enough. I will try to find the time (twin 10 month old boys) to think through these issues more so as to add to this discussion.

    I am interested to see if any solid, noteworthy Reformed Baptist saints of the past have touched upon this issue. Anyone know of some names?

    Edit: I too would like to see an answer to the above post.
  21. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    There's a whole process involved with this that would need to be followed.

    When someone baptized as an infant professes his faith in a Presbyterian church, he becomes a communicant. If that person comes persistently and impenitently to live in serious sin, he should be duly censured. Upon excommunication, he would be treated as someone who is outside the visible church and not eligible to address God as his Father.

    When someone baptized as an infant never comes to a profession of faith (or is impenitent as a covenant youth, for which he is liable for discipline), he is to be dealt with by the Session. At the discretion of the Session, he may be removed from the visible church as someone who was baptized but never professed faith. He, too, would be treated as someone outside the visible church and not eligible to address God as his Father.

    They don't lose the covenant sign and seal. Rather, that which was meant for their blessing (and would have been in the exercise of faith) testifies against them in their unbelief. It also continuingly calls them to repent and believe.

    Does all of this sort of thing correspond to what you mean by "unregenerate and still dead in their trespasses and sins?" How in your mind does one who is baptized as an infant come to be regarded as "unregenerate and still dead in their trespasses and sins?"

    I've laid the Presbyterian cards out on the table. Perhaps you could tell me precisely how you (one hopes you mean a body of elders) comes to the determination that one who has been baptized as an infant is "unregenerate and still dead in...sins."

    • Informative Informative x 2
    • List
  22. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    The short answer to your question is yes. If my child had demonstrated that they are unbelieving I would not urge them to pray to God as father. Baptism apart from faith gives no title to safe passage in courts of God, it only magnifies the guilt of the unbeliever in the same manner as hypocritical, unbelieving prayer does. Until such time as they, negatively, refuse to acknowledge Christ or, positively, demonstrate the fruits of unbelief, however, they are treated as members of the covenant community according to the judgment of charity like any other member.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  23. E.R. CROSS

    E.R. CROSS Puritan Board Freshman

    At the risk of oversimplifying, it seems as though Presbyterianism practices "innocent (believing) until proven guilty (unbelieving)".
  24. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Mr. Cross:

    It's quite curious to me how this question has been turned around from what the original post asked. It was a question about how Baptists regard their unbaptized children. I'll return to that after answering your question immediately above.

    Presbyterians do regard baptized youth as in the visible church, and thus eligible for what appertains thereunto: they may heartily sing "Jesus Loves Me" and may pray "Our Father, which are in heaven."

    They may not come to the Table, however, until they profess their faith in Christ and they are not presumed inherently to believe but, by virtue of their birth, to have an interest in and right to the covenant of grace.

    We don't treat them as unbelievers, to be sure (as those described in the original post do). Rather, we treat them as those to whom the promise is given and who, at every point, are encouraged, never to be presumptuous, but to rest and trust in Christ alone.

    Now, please permit me to turn the tables. Since we don't presume that our children automatically believe but should ever be encouraged to do so (and not presumed to be unbelievers either), how is it with you as a particular Baptist?

    Do you presume that your infant, because incapable of evidencing saving faith, is an unbeliever? And if your child is an unbeliever until you determine otherwise, would you invite them to sing and pray that which seems to pertain to believers?

    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  25. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    I'm trying to imagine how large a frying pan one would need to fry a cow. . .
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  26. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    It's important to stress, in this context (as you have, Alan), that Presbyterians believe neither in presumptive regeneration nor in baptismal regeneration.
  27. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    While children are not members of the New Covenant until they are converted, they must still be taught the Law of God; they must still attend the ministry of the Word, and be taught from the Scriptures, which are able to make them wise unto salvation. And by all means they must be taught that they can pray.
    A little child, praying as he is taught to, having been told that Jesus receives little children, does not sin like did the Pharisee hardened in his unbelief and pride. A child's capacity for understanding is far more different and limited than an adult's--and Jesus' statement of suffrage surely makes allowance for the limited understanding of children.
    My encouragement to children would be: you may by all means approach God in prayer, but you must approach owning your sins and knowing that He hears you for the sake of Christ the Mediator. There's so much they cannot possibly understand until they're older: damnation; substitutionary atonement; imputed righteousness--but they can be taught, from early on, that Jesus is the way to God, and they can pray to God because of the work that Jesus did.
    So yes, they should pray, and we should teach them from the earliest moment possible about sin, and righteousness, and judgment, and we should cry to God to save their souls, which He alone can do.
    • Amen Amen x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  28. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You would be advised to get a large deep fryer and lower the cow down like some folks do their Thanksgiving turkeys. Perhaps a construction crane could be utilized. The result should be nice and crispy.
  29. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    And if they believe this, which they will automatically because this is what they are taught and will display child-like faith, can they then be baptized?

    The other thing is that parents are becoming the judges of their child's status before God, rather than embracing that profession.
  30. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Sounds good. But for a deep fryer large enough to hold a cow, how much oil are you going to need? LOL
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page