Baptizing Non-members Children

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wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
In Joseph's thread about his church, he mentioned that the local PCA pastor would consider baptizing his children, subject to the consent of the Session, though he is not a communing member of that church.

This got me thinking about membership and baptism. Baptism is primarily covered under Chapter 56 of the PCA BCO. Based on this chapter, can a Session truly allow the TE to baptize a child of a non-communing member and the parents have no intention of becoming communing members? If it were allowed, at which church would the child be baptized?
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
In the RPCGA BCO it states, "After prior notice is given to the presiding pastor, the child is to be presented by the father and/or mother, professing his and/or her earnest desire that the child be baptized."

For us it would be a non-issue on two accounts, 1) they must be in earnest to do this and present the child, and 2) if they did not, then there would be something fundamentally wrong with thier membership and the church since we would never allow a non-paedo to join the church.

Though baptism is not necessarily a priveledge of membership (cf. the Ethiopian Eunuch, and the Apostle Paul), it still does not stand to reason that implicit arguments for covenantaing and children (neither of which the Eunuch or Paul had) is not something specifically tied to the local church and covenant community. You would have three issues to face: 1) theology behind baptism, 2) theology behind who lawfully administers it and why, 3) theology behind church membership and covenant children.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Well lets take the case of "Joe" (and not Joseph). Joe has recently turned peado who desires to have his children baptized. His credo pastor is not going to do it, but a Presbyerian Pastor will consider it. Should the Presbyterian Pastor do baptize the children? Can he baptize the children considering BCO 56 (or other parts of the BCO)? If he can, which church should the children be baptized in (assuming no private baptisms)?
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by wsw201
Well lets take the case of "Joe" (and not Joseph). Joe has recently turned peado who desires to have his children baptized. His credo pastor is not going to do it, but a Presbyerian Pastor will consider it. Should the Presbyterian Pastor do baptize the children? Can he baptize the children considering BCO 56 (or other parts of the BCO)? If he can, which church should the children be baptized in (assuming no private baptisms)?

Just FYI, in my particular case, I plan to invite a number of my MBC brothers and sisters to witness the baptism of my little girls. I realize that many at MBC don't agree, thus many probably won't come, but there are several that I do expect to be there. As much as possible, I want the MBC body to be involved in this.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Should the Presbyterian Pastor do baptize the children?

In my understanding, if someone asked me to do this, I would not.

Why? WCF 28:1 - "Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ,(a) not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church." 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body..."

If the visible church is what we are ultimately baptized into, then the local body, with its members, is the covneant community that should happen in. There would be, in my understanding, something wrong with "Joe's" understanding of what consitutes the covenant community, and what a "covenant community" is to begin with.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by ChristopherPaul
So "Joe" is forced to find someone who is willing to ignore the Westminster Confession.

What are his options?

The question again becomes one of relative importance of doctrines. Assuming that "Joe" does not (or for some reason cannot - let us say that the closest Reformed paedo church is 1.5 hours away) fall in line both with respect to sacramentology (baptism) and ecclesiology (church membership), it then becomes inevitable that one or both of the doctrines will be violated.

I would be unwilling to give a blanket answer like Matt did, because there are many circumstances that affect a highly pastoral decision.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by biblelighthouse
Originally posted by wsw201
Well lets take the case of "Joe" (and not Joseph). Joe has recently turned peado who desires to have his children baptized. His credo pastor is not going to do it, but a Presbyerian Pastor will consider it. Should the Presbyterian Pastor do baptize the children? Can he baptize the children considering BCO 56 (or other parts of the BCO)? If he can, which church should the children be baptized in (assuming no private baptisms)?

Just FYI, in my particular case, I plan to invite a number of my MBC brothers and sisters to witness the baptism of my little girls. I realize that many at MBC don't agree, thus many probably won't come, but there are several that I do expect to be there. As much as possible, I want the MBC body to be involved in this.

Which church would the baptism take place?
 

ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by ChristopherPaul
So "Joe" is forced to find someone who is willing to ignore the Westminster Confession.

What are his options?

The question again becomes one of relative importance of doctrines. Assuming that "Joe" does not (or for some reason cannot - let us say that the closest Reformed paedo church is 1.5 hours away) fall in line both with respect to sacramentology (baptism) and ecclesiology (church membership), it then becomes inevitable that one or both of the doctrines will be violated.

I would be unwilling to give a blanket answer like Matt did, because there are many circumstances that affect a highly pastoral decision.

It is a tough situation.

A friend of mine was raised Presbyterian, but ended up in an area with no PCA churches. He became established at a church that did not baptize infants. Meanwhile all his kids were baptized as infants by the church they were born into except his last child who was born while they were established at a credo-only church. What they decided to do was to baptize their child in there house! They invited friends and family and had a home baptism.

I am not sure who administered it, but that was the option they picked.

:um:
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
I would be unwilling to give a blanket answer like Matt did, because there are many circumstances that affect a highly pastoral decision.

Can you give us a "for instance"? Pastorally, where would I jettison the Confession to baptize someone or their children in another church?
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by ChristopherPaul

It is a tough situation.

You're telling me!

Originally posted by ChristopherPaul

A friend of mine was raised Presbyterian, but ended up in an area with no PCA churches. He became established at a church that did not baptize infants. Meanwhile all his kids were baptized as infants by the church they were born into except his last child who was born while they were established at a credo-only church. What they decided to do was to baptize their child in there house! They invited friends and family and had a home baptism.

I am not sure who administered it, but that was the option they picked.

:um:

I may end up having to go the same route. I don't know if the PCA pastor will want to do the baptism in his church, or if he will want to come do it at my house. I figured I'd let him meet with the session first, before I bother crossing that bridge.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by biblelighthouse
Originally posted by wsw201

Which church would the baptism take place?

A number of my MBC brothers and sisters should be there when it happens. Is the *building* in which it's done really important?

Baptisms are part of a worship service, just like the Lord's Supper, so it probably would matter to the congregation (or at least some in the congregation. Count on it!).
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by webmaster
I would be unwilling to give a blanket answer like Matt did, because there are many circumstances that affect a highly pastoral decision.

Can you give us a "for instance"? Pastorally, where would I jettison the Confession to baptize someone or their children in another church?

In order to avoid "jettisoning" the Confession's teaching on the importance of baptism. Here is one for instance: a family lives in an area where the only Reformed and evangelical paedobaptist churches are 1.5 - 2 hours away (let's say the rest are PCUSA, Methodist, etc). They are related to a family in my church. I know this family well. The family is desirous of having their children baptized, because of WCF 28. But it is not really possible where they live now. So they ask me if I would meet with them, counsel them, hear their profession and baptize their chidren.

I am faced with a situation of baptizing them without membership, or telling them it is OK to wait.

What would you do? What would you jettison? You have to jettison something.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by webmaster
I would be unwilling to give a blanket answer like Matt did, because there are many circumstances that affect a highly pastoral decision.

Can you give us a "for instance"? Pastorally, where would I jettison the Confession to baptize someone or their children in another church?

In order to avoid "jettisoning" the Confession's teaching on the importance of baptism. Here is one for instance: a family lives in an area where the only Reformed and evangelical paedobaptist churches are 1.5 - 2 hours away (let's say the rest are PCUSA, Methodist, etc). They are related to a family in my church. I know this family well. The family is desirous of having their children baptized, because of WCF 28. But it is not really possible where they live now. So they ask me if I would meet with them, counsel them, hear their profession and baptize their chidren.

I am faced with a situation of baptizing them without membership, or telling them it is OK to wait.

What would you do? What would you jettison? You have to jettison something.

I know its just an oversight, but I'm sure you would involve the whole Session (you wouldn't want to alienate the RE's!). And if the Session said no, would you go ahead and do it?
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Fred,

Realistically, we have had people in our past churches that were 1.5 hours away. They drove to church each Sunday, stayed with a family all day, and then went to evening services, then drove back.

There have been people in history who walk all night to get to church the next day. I don't think distance compromises the idea overall.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by wsw201

I know its just an oversight, but I'm sure you would involve the whole Session (you wouldn't want to alienate the RE's!). And if the Session said no, would you go ahead and do it?

You're right, it was an oversight. As a Presbyterian, my tacit assumption was that it would be a decision of the Session. I would not do it if the Session voted not to, even if I voted yes.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by webmaster
Fred,

Realistically, we have had people in our past churches that were 1.5 hours away. They drove to church each Sunday, stayed with a family all day, and then went to evening services, then drove back.

There have been people in history who walk all night to get to church the next day. I don't think distance compromises the idea overall.

I have seen this experience as well. I do think that today distance does compromise. In my opinion, there is a huge void in fellowship and connectionalism caused by being so distant from one's church.

We could also cite numerous examples from days gone by where people would go to whatever church was in their town (usually only one to a town) regardless of whether it was Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, etc. That would not make it right. Others may object, but I think it is virtually impossible to have a Biblical connection to a church that is two hours away from one's home.
 

BrianBowman

Posting Priviledges Revoked
Originally posted by webmaster
Fred,

Realistically, we have had people in our past churches that were 1.5 hours away. They drove to church each Sunday, stayed with a family all day, and then went to evening services, then drove back.

There have been people in history who walk all night to get to church the next day. I don't think distance compromises the idea overall.

:amen: About once a month I attend a Saturday morning men's Bible Study at our local OPC Chruch (although I'm a member of our closest PCA Church). I'm aware that the OPC & PCA are bascially unified on most matters and it is great to fellowship with these men. There are families in this OPC Church that drive over 1 hour to attend services, because they are committed to the doctrine and manner of life demonstrated in the OPC and in this local assembly in particular.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by wsw201

I know its just an oversight, but I'm sure you would involve the whole Session (you wouldn't want to alienate the RE's!). And if the Session said no, would you go ahead and do it?

You're right, it was an oversight. As a Presbyterian, my tacit assumption was that it would be a decision of the Session. I would not do it if the Session voted not to, even if I voted yes.

I thnk I'm getting misty. Glad to see there is still a little R left as you transform to a TE!! :lol::lol:
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by wsw201
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by wsw201

I know its just an oversight, but I'm sure you would involve the whole Session (you wouldn't want to alienate the RE's!). And if the Session said no, would you go ahead and do it?

You're right, it was an oversight. As a Presbyterian, my tacit assumption was that it would be a decision of the Session. I would not do it if the Session voted not to, even if I voted yes.

I thnk I'm getting misty. Glad to see there is still a little R left as you transform to a TE!! :lol::lol:

To be honest, I'm thinking of applying for a special dispensation to keep my "R" along with my "T" - to be used in Presbytery and GA contexts so I can actually get on committees!! :D
 
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