Featured Secondary Issue - Baptism

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by JM, Oct 8, 2018.

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  1. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Hey folks,

    I'll admit, I need some help on this. The last year I've come to view baptism as something that shouldn't divide us. I've moved from credo to paedobaptism but really don't see a reason to separate from credobaptists especially now with orthodox Protestantism under attack from all sides. I'm not trying to reduce the importance of the sacraments and probably have a much higher view of the sacraments than many of my Reformed fams, I guess...maybe, I'm worn out from all the division we face. Is baptism an issue we should divide over?

    Yours in the Lord,

    jm
     
  2. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    @JM

    It seems inescapable.

    I firmly believe that children born of believers (at least one) are outwardly in the covenant and ought to be baptized. But my dear Baptist friends would say no. And I would urge them to baptize their children.

    I also do not believe that dipping is necessary (immersion, pouring, and sprinkling all being valid modes, in my read of things). My dear Baptist friends think otherwise and insist on immersion.

    According to them, all my children are not truly baptized, since they were baptized as infants and later made professions of faith. To me, failure to baptize those that have a right to the sign and seal of it is a serious matter.

    Practically speaking, how can we not be divided over such? We can respect one another across the lines and esteem one another as fellow believers but we cannot be together in the same communion given these differences.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
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  3. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    I know of a local ARP congregation that allows Baptists into full membership minus the office of Elder. This, to me, makes sense.
     
  4. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Obviously, the facts speak for themselves. Baptism is an issue that divides Confessional Baptists from Presbyterians.

    On the one hand, those that have not been baptized as confessing believers are unchurched, on the other, those that have been baptized as children or professing believers are not unchurched.

    That said, division here should not be taken to mean something that sets one outside the boundaries of Christendom. But it should be taken to mean that there is disagreement between the paedo and anti-paedo baptist.

    I am wondering what you mean by "division" as it relates to the context of Protestantism being under attack. Both camps stand together as Protestants, still protesting, hence these in-house differences are not really part and parcel of the attack upon Protestantism at large, other than those that raise the "So many denominations!" canards. You know, the Romanists or those bizarre odd ducks that have declared all the church militant is corrupt and refuse to covenant with a local church (other than having coffee at Starbucks claiming to be "doing church"). ;)

    If we could wave a wand and these baptism issues were to vanish, I suspect the attack upon Protestantism would still continue.
     
  5. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    On one hand I guess I'm referring to the leadership in many Protestant denominations leaving the Protestant confessions and orthodoxy while many in the pew are still orthodox.

    I have read many, many times on this and other forums where Reformed Baptists are attending paedo congregations and paedo's are attending Baptist and Reformed Baptist churches. There is a unity in Protestantism that extends beyond the confessions especially since, "So many denominations!" is a canard.
     
  6. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Let's separate issues.

    These groups surely have means (as in church courts, discussion with elders, etc.), especially if they are confessional groups, to deal with these issues. If the membership is content to sit idly by while the ordained servant wanders off in the weeds, then perhaps they deserve what they get. May it never be!

    What would this "unity" actually be without some formal statements about "what is in" and "what is out?" How else are we to determine the like-minded in that which we hold dear other than to actually define the same?

    Granted, some "attend church out of bounds" due to varying personal and practical circumstances. I tend to grant them the charity and prudence that they are not forsaking the requirement to assemble corporately. Discerning the motives behind these choices is impossible absent some public declarations from these persons.
     
  7. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is my thought, too.

    Yes, paedobaptists and Baptists can unite doctrinally around the essentials of the gospel—even the majority of theology—but it’s the practical issue in this case that forces division (more geographic than anything else). In other words: baptism, although it is not of first dogmatic rank, is of more than enough practical import to mean that differences cannot cohabitate in the same ministry. After all, how can two ministers who disagree on what to do with our children minister in the same congregation, over the same people? It just can’t happen. No matter what the practice, the conscience of one of the ministers will be violated.

    Baptism just isn’t something one can shrug at or be on the fence about; they must make a decision. As others have said, it does not divide us in Christ, but it does divide us in practice, as well it should.
     
  8. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    That local congregation is not the only one, since Presbyterians regard Baptists as having valid baptisms. It's Baptists that don't regard Presbyterians as having valid baptisms.

    Your illustration only cuts one way. Do you know of any Baptists who allow non-immersed Presbyterians baptized either as adults or as infants into their membership? I don't.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  9. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Do they have a diaconate? If so, how can they honestly deal with Ordination question 3? (ARP Form of Government 8.17)
     
  10. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Confessional Presbyterian churches welcome those who make a credible profession of faith, but require officers of any stripe to subscribe to the WCF.
     
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, which leaves 3 options.

    1) They don't have a diaconate.
    2) The poster upthread is wrong.
    3) They aren't a confessional church.

    I tried to research but only two of the ARP churches in Ontario had decent web sites (both had a diaconate). The other 4 could best be described as sub-standard web presence and there was no way to tell one way or the other. So, hopefully, the answer is "1".
     
  12. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Joel Beeke, in his forthcoming 4-volume systematic theology (Volume 1 due at the end of March, 2019!), has a co-author, whose name I can't recall. Since Beeke is Dutch Reformed and his co-author is Reformed Baptist, it'll be interesting to see how the chapter on baptism (in Volume 4) will play out.
     
  13. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    I have occasionally heard of churches that allow members of the congregation to follow their own beliefs as to baptism. However, from my perspective that is not uniting the two views but dividing them still further into three: credobaptists, pedobaptists and "whatever" baptists. As has been noted already on this thread, serious pedobaptists and credobaptists regard it as too important an issue not to have a church position on. Over the course of time, "whatever" baptist churches tend to become credo or pedo. The exception might be some low church Anglicans in England and Australia, who are denominationally pedobaptist but lean in a credobaptist direction and who have a very low sacramental theology.
     
  14. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    It only we had full unity and we were all one mind...

    But....

    My children are either disciples, or they are not.
    Either Christ feeds them as members of his visible church, or he does not.
    Either we can treat them in charity as believers, or we cannot.
    Either we proclaim that God will be God to the children of believers, or we do not.
    Either that promise continues in the New Covenant times, or it does not.
    Either to such belongs the Kingdom, or it does not.
    Either they are holy, or they are not.
    Either you can sing “Jesus Loves Me” to your child, or you cannot.
    Either you can teach them to pray “Our Father”, or not.

    I do understand the concerns of the Baptist side. Only last November was I still a Baptist. However, these are only a few practical differences that your baptism theology makes.

    Of course on the Baptist side some will argue that Paedobaptism in some measure denies the Gospel, or it fosters presumption, gives children a worthless second-tier church membership status, confuses the Covenants, robs the New Covenant of its exceedingly greater privileges, takes us back to Judaism, locks us up in old types and shadows which are done away with, muddles the history of redemption, brings the unconverted into the church, and gives parents and children hope for extra-Biblical blessings they have no title to. If they are right, none of this is small.
     
  15. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Puritan Board Sophomore

    Division(over the timing of baptism) is 'escapable' in the Lord. It is 'small' in the Lord, in the sense that it does not hinder his work one iota. Does anyone think God will not work his will among Presbyterians who baptize their babies or Baptists who do not?
     
  16. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore

    I believe Baptism is worthy of dividing over because of the views already stated and additionally because both views confessionally claim that mishandling (specifically withholding) Baptism is sinful.


    Interestingly I believe there was a Church plant in Madison, MS, which consisted of leadership that were a mixture of Paedo & Anti-Paedo.... there were other strange things they did as well (meeting times and such). However, based on their website it looks like sermons stopped being logged back in May. I am not sure if they still meet or not.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  17. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's not only timing, but there are real practical ramifications for the children themselves, their parents, and the church. God may work above the means, but we'd be presumptuous to neglect them, since we do have a clear command to baptize, and who is baptized cannot possibly be immaterial; and ordinarily, he does his work through the means. Generally where His work is, there has been a means made effectual.

    So, if we are to baptize our children, count them as members of the church, and treat them as disciples, and actively disciple them, that's no small thing.

    I can say it's had great ramifications for my fathering.
     
  18. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I believe that one of us is wrong. In that, there are surely going to be detriments based on obedience. Consider the passage in Hebrews chapter 12.

    In Genesis 17 it warns that not placing the sign on our children results in a 'cutting off'. This cutting off is akin to missing blessings that come, by default, in our obedience.
     
  19. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore

    Elizabeth,

    No one here is claiming that man can hinder the will of God. Trust me even the most heretical church gathering is not outside the Will of God and is not outside being able to be used by God (how He uses them is another topic). Baptism is not a small matter in any sense in my opinion.

    Everything is a vessel of the Lord's will. The Lord's 2 sacraments are of HIGH importance and should be HIGH priorities for every local Church. Baptist (regarding the views on Baptism) usually create much less friction inside a Presbyterian Church vs. a Presbyterian inside of a Baptist Church.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  20. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Puritan Board Freshman

    Our church meets Presbyterians halfway in that regard. We have what we call "associate membership" which has all the privileges of membership with the exception of voting on constitutional amendments. That is merely a safeguard to say that they cannot work to make our church not a baptist one. Until recently, they could not vote at all. We have this category because we are in a college town, with students who often wants to remain members at their "home church" and this is a way of ensuring church oversight while they are in college. It is also there because we have a fair number of paedobaptists who for one reason or another do not worship with any of the local Presbyterian churches. Much like presbyterian churches, our deacons and elders must fully subscribe to our confession (1689 LBCF), which naturally rules out leadership roles for "associate members."
     
  21. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I guess I am a "whatever Baptist". So are plenty of people I know.

    How can anybody read all the long threads here debating the subject, and not conclude that wonderful brethren on both sides who appeal to many many scriptures and love the great doctrines of grace and God's sovereignty, have come to different conclusions? How can anybody say they can't join together in true fellowship with them, even while maintaining their convictions? I just don't get the division either, after years of reading the debates here.

    When we lived in another state we went to a very fine PCA church with lots of Baptists. Why would they leave a truly great church over this? The Calvinist Baptist church we are in now has one guy in leadership who we love very much who is paedo. His wife and kids and he are very happy and involved members. Why leave over this?

    The real issue in my opinion is whether church leadership will allow the "other side" membership even if not eldership. We know Baptist churches that will accept people as members who believe their infant baptism was valid and not force rebaptism. I think that is how it should be. And our PCA experience is that Baptists are welcome as members although not as elders. But there would be the same approach for persons who are not 5 pointers. You can be a member without believing in L for example, but not an elder.

    This is a speculative and cynical thing to say, but I'll throw it out there.....I've seen quite a few people who had strong convictions on something suddenly "see the light" when it meant they had a chance to be in leadership. Baptism for one, and changing sides. Former charismatic positions suddenly tossed, not by conviction and biblical study, but to be in the inner ring. I wonder how many people change sides just to be a respectable member and not from true belief. It is something to be aware of and cautious about.
     
  22. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore

    One example among many:

    How would you advise a father, who is Paedo, have his children baptized in a Credo-Only congregation?
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  23. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Thank you everyone for your insights. You have given me plenty to think about.

    Yours in the Lord,

    jm
     
  24. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Junior

    Lynnie, I guess you could imagine Abraham dealing with those who wouldn't circumcise their children. It was the clear command of God to do so- could Abraham have taken a "live and let live" position before God who had commanded? It's just as clearly still a command to paedobaptists to give children the sign of the promise, now clearly baptism. To not require this duty of new parents would be a sin.
     
  25. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Here is the church I referred to http://trinityarp.org/

    I believe it passed in 2011 but I can't be certain. The email I had from Pastor Henry (current Pastor still) went to an account I no longer have access to.

    Yours in the Lord,

    jm
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  26. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Consider Moses' wife Zipporah when Moses delayed in placing the commanded signage:

    "24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision."

    The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Ex 4:24–26.
     
  27. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks. They do show a deacon. Problematic.
     
  28. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Piper's church does something similar and I believe Bunyan was quoted in their position paper.
     
  29. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, I'd say that pretty well sums it up.
     
  30. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    But Baptists don't subscribe to the WCF, so it wouldn't be an issue.
     
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