Should I be baptized (or rebaptized)?

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by Rufus, Aug 3, 2011.

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  1. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    I baptized Roman Catholic as a baby, became a Christian maybe a year to three years ago (gradual conversion really), I'm in a credobaptist church, but hold to paedobaptism (and I have attended a Presbyterian church once).

    So should I be baptized into a Protestant church and should I go to the Presbyterian church to have it happen? I would like to attend the Presbyterian church again, but I do like the church I currently attend.
  2. "William The Baptist"

    "William The Baptist" Puritan Board Freshman

    I would say if you are paedo then you obviously ought not be baptized credo...

    But I wouldn't change churches just to be baptized. It is fitting to be in a body, not where you are comfortable, but rather were you are challenged, where you are learning and maturing, where you are a part in serving, and not just because you "like" it. But be convinced in your own mind as to where you are supposed to be, but ultimately, be where the Lord intends for you to be. Whether you stay or change. Baptism isn't mandatory to salvation, so I would be in diligent prayer about it. :) :2cents:
  3. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you, but I don't know if I should get baptized by the Presbyterian church while still attending my current church.
  4. "William The Baptist"

    "William The Baptist" Puritan Board Freshman

    Then I have a question too: Can you be baptized by a Presbyterian church without being a member??
  5. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Sean, are you a member of your current church? If not, do you intend to pursue membership? Most credobaptist churches will require you to be baptized if you were never baptized based on a credible profession of faith.

    As a Baptist I do not consider Roman baptism valid. The issue is doubly moot because it was paedobaptism.

    Should you go to a Presbyterian church to be baptized? Only if you're prepared to join that church. I don't know your situation, but it seems like you should declare where you're going to attend. If you can't abide credobaptist theology and practice you should seriously consider joining the PCA church in your signature.
  6. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Where are you a member?

    And, while I'm asking questions, how does your statement

    match up with your signature block?

    The Presbyterian church should not baptize someone unless they are a member (or are being received into membership).

    As for PCA, a position paper a few years ago discussed whether RCs should be rebaptized upon joining. My recollection is that whether you had a valid baptism is for the session (not you) to determine.


    I see that Mr. Sparkman has provided links to the study papers to which I referenced. Has it really almost 25 years?
  7. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor


    I was in similar shoes a few years ago after I had been a Christian since 1999, I was about to be examined for ordination and knew I had to defend my view of the validity of Roman Catholic baptism (since I had not been baptized). I studied a lot, knowing my presbytery was one not on 'my side' since they were southern presbyterians, and I was convinced I was wrong. I was baptized prior to my ordination. :)

    I would say that you need to be baptized. Also, I would request the Presbyterian church to baptize you since 1) a more proper mode would be being used (read "William the Baptist), and 2) it seems like you will join there soon anyway (am I mistaken?).

    Things I read that convinced me of the Southern Presbyterian view that Roman Catholic baptism is not valid:

    Wayne brought up some, I don't think he added the report from the 1845 Assembly here (this is gold):

    I'm sure there are more sources out there, especially by R.L. Dabney. These are some of the easier ones to get to. Anyone know any resources on A Puritan's Mind?
  8. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    I believe I originally intended on writing that as occasionally attends.

    I'll have my drivers license soon enough to make the distance to the Presbyterian church, if I attend and feel called to go there I will and be baptized and pursue membership there, if I don't feel called to it than whatever God wills will happen.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  9. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    If you think you're about to start attending and join a new church, you should wait until you're there and then discuss the matter with the elders there and decide at that time.
  10. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I don't think you should be baptized a second time. But in any case that pastor and session will discuss the matter with you in their own context.

    WCF 28.7:
    Belgic Confession, Art.34:
    It is a Donatistic error to connect the efficacy of baptism to the quality of the minister/church. Rejecting RC baptism due to the degree of apostasy therein puts us in the unenviable position of (among other things) requiring us to run the same analysis on EVERY other church body, for consistency's sake.

    Furthermore, it is hard not to conclude (when the truly catholic view of the unity of the church--militant and triumphant--is accounted for) that a metaphorical "cutting off" of RCC-performed baptism from the "body" does far worse than chronologically amputating only those persons baptized after [fill in the blank: 1000? 1550? 1845? other?]. It testifies that an innumerable host of evangelical believers who left the RCC, and whose baptism was considered legitimate--gracious in spite of the facts--were actually mistaken, and they are accounted by us (if we consistently take this view) as never having actually admitted to the church. It even jeopardizes (conceptually) the previous baptisms of generations prior to the arbitrary cut-off date, due to the unified nature of the deathless body of Christ, the church. Thankfully, I think the PC re-thought its "historic" decision at a later opportunity.

    So, "cutting off" the RCC in 1845 has the effect of also cutting off Calvin and Augustin, whether we like it or not--because they are still alive, and the church that baptized them is the RCC. It's specious to argue that: "Well, they were members of the invisible church, and that's what really counts." No, cutting them all off is an ex post facto act of judicial discipline without due process. The fact is, that God's elect are marked graciously in baptism, no matter which church does it. And we simply don't have the right to invalidate baptisms, even of churches that have wandered from the rule of faith. We cannot pretend as if history (past) and eternity are not meaningful categories in relation to this question, and our present attitudes only affect our "forward progress."
  11. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes this is coming from a credobaptist, but I would advise you to be baptized a second time, just because you know at this point that at the time of your baptism, you were a complete stranger to grace. But concerning the Roman Catholic church, from my perspective you were baptized into a false religion, because they preach another gospel, really the same as though you had been baptized into Islam, Buddhism or paganism.

    I'm glad to know that you can rejoice in knowing God's election towards you. May He bless you in your walk!
  12. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Just a note, if RC 'baptism' is not valid, it is no baptism at all and therefore cannot be considered as a 'first' baptism where one needs a second baptism. Using this line of argumentation of it being a 'second' baptism doesn't help Sean.

    The question here then must be, "Is RC 'baptism' valid?" If it is, Sean shouldn't be baptized, if it is not, he should be baptized. Plain and simple.

    All baptists will say, "No." In America, Northern Presbyterians will say, "Yes" and Southern Presbyterians will say, "No."

    Bruce, I don't like disagreeing with you because I mostly always agree, but you said,
    That is true about the Donastic error, but the difference here is Roman Catholicism can't be considered a 'church' and priests/bishops cannot be considered biblically ordained ministers.
  13. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I must admit that this question has been extremely vexing to me, for I cannot agree with both Charles Hodge and Dabney/Thornwell at the same time. Hodge believed in the validity of RCC baptism, while Dabney and Thornwell did not. Basically, the Northern Presbyterian Church followed Hodge, and the Southern Presbyterian Church followed Dabney and Thornwell. There are good arguments on both sides. However, I think that the most basic question is this: is Romanism a true church, or part of the true church? If it is, then their baptism is valid. If it is not, then their baptism is invalid. Hodge actually argued that the RCC church was a valid church. In my opinion, this goes too far. Romanism is not part of the true church. Therefore, I deny the validity of Romanist baptisms. And if they are not baptisms at all, then we are not "rebaptizing." Every session will need to examine the evidence for the validity of any baptism. This is part of fencing the table.
  14. Phil D.

    Phil D. Puritan Board Sophomore

    Rev. Keister,

    Of course one problem that ultimately has to be dealt with in this context is that if Romanism is deemed not part of the true church, then men like Luther, Calvin, etc. etc. were never truly baptized. The proposal that Rome became apostate only after many of its worst heresies were "officially" codified at Trent seems kind of arbitrary to me, as well as being of relatively late origins. Any thought s on this difficult aspect of the issue?
  15. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Part of the problem with not recognizing RCC baptisms (and I think Bruce hints at this when he says, "Rejecting RC baptism due to the degree of apostasy therein puts us in the unenviable position of (among other things) requiring us to run the same analysis on EVERY other church body, for consistency's sake") is that questions would need to be raised about validity of certain mega-liberal denominations as to whether they are part of the visible church as well. I certainly do not deny that, say, the UCC is part of the visible church (as much as it pains me to say that!), but in some ways conservative Protestants have more in common with the RCC than some (most?) components of the UCC (e.g., view of Scripture as the word of God, Trinitarianism, the natures of Christ, moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality, etc.). Shall we require former members of apostate Protestant denominations to likewise be "re-baptized"?
  16. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    This is one of the reasons I held the other view for so long, not to mention what Tim brought up in the post after you. I don't know that I have an answer, honestly. I am beginning to think that we need to ask the question about the PCUSA. Do they preach the gospel? There are some Bible-believing churches in the PCUSA. There is a renewal movement afoot there. So the question is exceedingly difficult, and cannot easily be answered. However, I know of no Romanist "church" that preaches the Gospel. If a church does not preach the Gospel, then how can it be a true church if it is missing one of the key marks? Wouldn't we send a pretty strong message to the PCUSA if we started baptizing people born in that apostate denomination? The question about Luther and Calvin is far more difficult, actually, and I don't even pretend to have an answer to that one. So pick your poison: either have the difficulties that have been mentioned while holding to the Southern view, or be forced to acknowledge that the Roman Catholic Church is part of the true church. I just cannot go with the latter.
  17. GulfCoast Presbyterian

    GulfCoast Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, there are indeed bible believing churches in the PCUSA, and a renewal movement. Thus, practically, I am not sure how anyone would ever be able to look at an individual's PCUSA baptism and say "This one is OK. This one is not." I don't know of any "bible believing" RC churches, although I am sure some part of the invisible church might be found there.
  18. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    This is indeed a vexing question, and there is honest difference of opinion within the reformed house.

    A believer's only baptism communion, as has been mentioned, would not recognize an infant baptism, let alone a Roman one.

    And, as has been repeated above, counsel ought always be sought by the authority God has placed in the covenant community where you are covenanted. You are confessing that doctrine, and ought be doing so by a clear conscience informed by the Word of God.

    Mr. Calvin resisted a second baptism (he was infant baptized in the Roman system), and weakly, in my opinion, defended that position. I can't help but think, given the trajectory of his biblical theology, had he lived longer and had he seen the Council of Trent officially repudiate the gospel (justification by faith), he would have come to a different conclusion. The reformers became more free as time went on in the Reformation, and their views developed as the church was reformed. But, that is only speculation.

    For myself, all I can discern Biblicaly is that it is difficult to judge the degree of apostasy of a communion at a given point in time. There is overcoming grace (not salvific) at the time of ordinance of baptism.

    However, a communion (Roman) that officially repudiates the gospel (justification by faith alone), and pronounces anathemas on it, officially, cannot in any sense be considered a 'true church' in terms of administering the ordinance- which itself, is a sign and seal of that gospel.

    If we don't have the gospel, we don't have anything Christian left.
  19. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    If you had been living in OT times and had been circumcised as a Samaritan you wouldn't have had the opportunity of re-circumcision.

    If the Papacy is the Man of Sin, the Roman Catholic Church is part of the visible catholic Church, because it says that he takes his seat in the temple of God.
  20. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    That's one way of looking at it, and it has a valid underlying point- something to the finality of that ordinance.

    But looking at it another way, the fact of it having been done is not absolutely determinative that is valid. By that logic, a Jehovah's Witness "baptism" would be valid, or a "mock" ceremony. I think the Westminster Standards recognize something of this by saying that it must be performed by a "minister of the gospel." (cf WCF XXVIII 2.)
  21. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Fair enough. Those "churches" that reject the great ecumenical creeds are not Christian in any sense.
  22. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know that a Jehovah's Witness baptism would be valid. My understanding is that Trinity + water = baptism. JW's don't do Trinity. Do they use the Triune name when they baptize?

    Concerning WCF 28.2, I don't think that's addressing the minimum requirements for validity, but rather what ought to be done. Certainly someone baptized by a Baptist lay-person does not need to be baptized again.
  23. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree with Bill. I am too an ex Roman catholic and considered the same question a while back. I am now a Presbyterian and was received into the Presbyterian church I now attend by public reaffirmation of faith in front of the entire congregation. The Presbyterian church accepted my Roman catholic baptism. I am now a practicing and confirmed Presbyterian by affirmation of faith and I receive communion and fully participate in the life of my Presbyterian church. I am now a Presbyterian and by Gods amazing grace no longer a Roman catholic but a Reformed Protestant and a Presbyterian, Praise God!
  24. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I appreciate Bruce's earlier comments, however I have a different take on Roman baptism. One can argue that the spiritual condition of the administrator of the ordinance does not make the ordinance valid or invalid. Roman baptism is troubled not just by the administrator but by the entire organization and its belief of what baptism is and what it accomplishes:

    1. Roman Catholicism is not a church
    2. Roman Catholicism views baptism as salvific
    3. Roman baptism requires a surrogate

    What is different from Roman Catholicism and other spiritually dead religions? Yes, Roman Catholicism has roots in the true Christian faith, but has long since apostatized. It is no better than Hinduism, Buddhism, or Mormonism. The Trinitarian nature of Roman baptism is corrupted by how they view and practice it. This is not just the problem of Roman Catholic clergy but of the whole organization - from the Pope on down.

    Of course, as a Baptist, I am not able to accept the validity of Roman baptism because of its paedo nature.
  25. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    But, judging by your comments, you would also not accept an adult convert to the RCC who was baptized into the RCC as an adult, correct?
  26. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

  27. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Actually, the surrogate issue is a major problem. If you think about it, an infant who is baptized in the Roman manner is not actually being baptized at all. Oh yes, the water is applied to the infant, but without a surrogate there is no baptism. It is the surrogate's confession that adds validity to the Roman rite (from the Roman point of view). An adult Roman Catholic convert has an additional problem. A credible profession of faith, from a true evangelical perspective, is not required to convert to Roman Catholicism. One has to ask the question whether baptism is a sign of faith in Christ, or a sign of capitulation towards Rome. Obviously I believe it's the latter.
  28. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    God can use a crooked stick to draw a straight line.

    Baptism is something that happens to a person; not something fundamentally that he does, but is done to. At least, that's true in Presbyterianism.

    Is the intent to identify this person with the Triune God of Scripture? And with the true church-universal and militant? If these are true, and the formula is straight out of Scripture, and the means used is water--I cannot find any confessional basis for denying that the RCs do, in fact, baptize. I think the objection places too much emphasis on what WE are doing as the church, rather than on recognizing human hands-on in what GOD is doing.

    They are defective, severely, in doctrine and practice. They have a form of godliness, and deny the power thereof. Their ministry has little more than a formal shell of ordination. But before we overthrow our recognition of baptisms that they conduct, we should be careful to note how conveniently we pass by many other similar defects in other churches. The "irregularity" of Romish baptism is no more an impediment to our recognizing it, than if we recognize some other "irregularly" performed baptism, as done by a Charismatic-Arminian-baptist. Unless we want to start saying that our church (whichever one) is the ONLY church that has a true baptism, along with perhaps a few others that we periodically bring up for a review of how well they line up with us doctrinally.

    Look, its a mark of the rejection of any kind of catholicity of the church-visible, to overthrow the baptisms of other bodies. This is frankly the position of the majority of Baptists, though some of them (thankfully) allow such marks as we have in our Presbyterian churches (but would insist on regularizing the rite if one of us joined them). What I call that is a "happy inconsistency" that allows us to be baptized in some sense by them who are our gospel-fellows, but without deep down abolishing their prejudice against our identifying ourselves as citizens of the common kingdom, if while in their borders we are without a passport of their own issue.

    And basically, we Presbyterians are doing the same thing, if we deny the RCs baptism. We're on those terms insisting that only our offices have the official seal, though we will accept certain others as equivalent. Whereas, historically (in Presbyterianism for 300 years up to 1845, and since then on the northern side), and always for the continental Reformed: we've acknowledge that those tokens bestowed--even by a church that basically misuses the privilege of handing such things out--nonetheless are to be honored "for the sake of the fathers," and for the sake of Him who gave that seal to the church.

    If they break the seal, or alter it to truly change it and make it unrecognizable, that's a stronger argument that they've no more of the power to bestow it. But, thus far the arguments haven't been compelling to many, outside a relatively narrow band of the ecclesial spectrum.

    But in general, this is a distinction between the strictly Reformed and the Baptist. We profess to believe in a catholicity, though we recognize that there is (obviously) no Catholicity of the church. And I have to say, it strikes me as the essence of sectarianism to deny that a baptism that was intended to mark a person with the sign of catholicity (baptism) should be overthrown. Mormons? have no connection to the historic, Christian church. They are a completely different religion. And I think most other questions are also easily dismissed.
  29. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you everybody and God bless, I will pray over all of this, a moderator can close this thread now unless people want to continue debating over whether Roman Catholic baptism is valid.
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