Should Paedo churches allow Baptist members to not baptize infants?

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jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
Not to say this and I may get in trouble for bringing this up because it sounds like I'm questioning the moderators but by looking at the name of the churches in the signatures (and the signatures in general) of those who would have a problem with deny membership or disciplining those who would not baptize covenant children, all seem to be of non-reformed baptistic or non-presbyterian or non-reformed backgrounds. They all seem to be maybe TULIPers or maybe could affirm a confession personally but when it comes to the churches in which they serve they could never consistently put these believes into practice and want to find a way out. This is the problem with revivalistic calvinism right here. Bible Churches, Community Churches, SBC Churches are all mixed (I guess in theory any one of these could make this a membership issue because of the autonomy of the local church but very few do in my experience and I think I am right on this one) and they could never break away from these revivalistic/evangelicical traditions.

J.P.,

You really have no idea what you're talking about. You don't know the Baptist mods on this board and the degree to which they hold to the 1689 LBC. You're best served by muting your opinion in that area until you speak with some knowledge.

Secondly, the OP had to do with whether paedo churches should allow Baptists to join who will not submit their children to baptism. Your added commentary isn't helpful. I brought up a hypothetical situation that is a very real scenario in some locales. If you moved to an area where there were no paedo churches, would you attend a Reformed Baptist church? I hope you would. You may decide not to join out of conscience sake, but why would you not want to worship and fellowship with God's people? That's really what my hypothetical was about.

I am just saying that this is supposed to be a confessionally reformed forum and all teh confessions that are historically reforemd (and I would put the 1689 LBC there) and if you look at the practice have made it clear on this issue. The only reason there would be controversey is because of revivalistic evangelisicism infecting in the Reformed Churches. But many persons who do not go to Reformed Baptist Churches call themselves Reformed Baptists when historically they are not. Believing in TULIP and credo baptism and intellectually asserting to the 1689 does not make u a reformed baptist. If that was teh case you would have to call Piper, Grudem, Mohler, Lawson, MacArthur (maybe) all reformed baptists when they are not. ARBCA is an association of Reformed baptistist churches and there are many independent ones of that. But there is a difference between historic reformed baptists and Baptists who hold to calvinistic solteriology
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Montana Blue said:
And you can say , "well then, plant a church," but its not always that easy. (Especially if you are a young single woman).

Kathleen, yeah...I'd prefer that you don't go starting your own church just yet. :lol:
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
I have been in Confessional Churches for most of my 28 years. I have been a member of a RPCNA church, a PCA Church, and 1689 churches. Also a few others. I have always been a credobaptist. I have always defended my position while living at peace with the leadership of the Church. I was always respectful and promised to seek the unity of the Church. If baptism ever came up I would defer to the Pastor / Elders. They are the ones responsible for the congregation. I did not come out of revivalistic church background. My first Church was a Reformed Baptist Church without altar calls. I did share the gospel quite effectively with those around me.

The PCA allows credo's to be in membership. Not all Covenant Theologians are paedo.

All theology has to deal with covenants in some sort or another. Even dispensationalist have a place for covenant in their systems the question is what are the covenants and what are the implications. To be Reformed or prebyterian is to say there at at least 2 (works and grace- redemption was developed a bit after) and the promise of the cov. of grace is to their children though that is no guarentee of election.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
It would seem to me that eventually, it would come to the parents failing to fulfill their membership vows. While subscription is not required, the WCF states:
Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
And while that is not in itself a violation of the membership vows, one of the vows is:
Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of this church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to heed its discipline?
So while technically, I suppose a session might think not subscribing to covenant baptism would not be restrictive of membership as long as it is not an issue. Though if a person has a child, the session should be working to instruct them as they are delinquent in doctrine. If then, after a long period of time of attempting to convince them of their error, they still do not "heed its discipline" the parents would be contumaciously holding to sin in disregard of their membership vows.

Those that are not baptized are not necessarily lost, but those that neglect the baptism of their children are in "great sin". When they are instructed in that error, and continue in such great sin, it is not only that sin they commit, but rebellion and violation of their vows. Should they be held to discipline for such action? I believe they should, and so if I were a credo baptist, I would either find a credo church, or start one. Joining a "good church" would mean joining one that would exercise loving discipline over the flock, and that would include not allowing the parents of a child to so neglect the baptism of their own children that they should not allow them to remain in fellowship.

This is no different than a credo church insisting that a person who being paedo and was baptized as an infant be baptized as an adult in order to join the church. I no of no baptist church that would allow a person baptized as an infant to join the church as an adult without submitting to baptism yet again, even though from a Presbyterian point of view, that is sin.

Brian,

See what our dear sister Kathleen wrote. If the ONLY church in town is a paedo church, and you're a credo, you should attend the paedo church. I've said about three times so far, but it keep getting skipped, that if the elders indicate they will discipline me for not baptizing my children then I won't officially join the church. Would you expect a single young woman, like Kathleen, to start her own church? I would expect that the paedo church would warmly welcome the credo who would want to join/visit.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The PCA allows credo's to be in membership.

Unfortunately, with qualifications.

Unfortunate? Not necessarily. It should be with qualifications for the sake of unity.

This is an old post that might be somewhat insightful here.

I wrote this when Piper and Grudem started discussing their views of Church membership.

I hope I am not being disrespectful to Dr. Piper but I do believe he is responding to this issue emotionally instead of intellectually in light of the differences in our theologies. I mean no disrespect to that great man of God. I am prone to the same problems also. And I also desire for our Union in Christ to be more solidified in each other. But our views between Presbyterian and Baptist Covenant membership are very opposed to each other. The Presbyterian's promote an unregenerate membership because of earthly familial relationships while the Covenantal Baptist see the membership based upon New Covenant Principles which are based upon the reception of those who confess Christ and His atoning work on their behalf.

That is no small place of difference in my opinion.

Your brother in Christ,
Randy

I use to hold to Pipers view. I had great admiration for he Free Presbyterian Church Worldwide. They hold this view. But as of the last few years my convictions have sharpened a bit. I hold a view that a local congregation is not the whole body of Christ. Unity in both places is very important but our Unity and Union are two different issues in my opinion.

Union seems to have more of a connection to something more than unity. When a union is entered into an attachment is achieved whereby others are put together as one. . Unity has to do with two walking side by side. We all have Union with Christ as a body but as a body has parts we are to walk in unity as members.

In our separate confessional standards we have a Union with each other in our individual Churches. 1689ers and WCFers so to speak have unions in their confessions. It is conviciton and confession that binds them. At this point there are a few issues that one goup must call the other out. One is congregationalism and the other is baptism. I do know of Presbyterians and Baptists who accuse the other of sin if one does not line up with the convictions of the other. The Baptist is accused of the sin of anabaptism by some Presbyterian's along with the sin of not applying the seal of the covenant upon their children. These are not light issues as Piper does not address them. Some Baptist's accuse Presbyterian's of poor hermeneutics in their understanding of Covenant Theology and sinning by not following Christ's command that disciples must be baptized as repentant converts of Christ. Disciples can not be infants or church members because one must first exhibit cognizant confessional capabilities. Therefore the Presbyterian is knowingly admitting an unregenerate unforgiven Church membership that is not acknowledged in Jeremiah 31 or the New Covenant.

There are major differences that do not promote a Union but would in fact be a place where division would be caused by doctrinal differences. At the same time I do believe we can walk in Unity. For we have much more in Common with the beliefs we hold in common. For instance the Person and Work of Christ, the Five Sola's, most of our views on Covenant Theology. These are things we can walk in Unity concerning our faith and Practice. And our Union is truly with the Son of God.

I have been a PCA member. I joined with a promise not to cause any fuss over the issue of Baptism. And I didn't. I could never hold a position of authority in that Church because of my beliefs and my non adherance to the WCF. So another question for me to Piper would be.... Why in tarnations would you limit someone like R. C. Sproul, Pipa, Ryken, or any other good Presbyterian in a Baptist Church membership or would you limit them? Would they be able to live out their convictons in good conscience in a 1689 confessional Church, or in your Reformed Baptist Church? If you are truly a Covenantal Baptist you couldn't. But if they dwelt amongst themselves they would not be limited in such a way. I would not let them perform their gifts of Elder in a Baptist Church or we would be in a compromised position to hold to our doctrine in my opinion. But at the same time I do hold them as Elders in the Church of Christ in their distinct Presbyterian Union. And I dearly respect them as Elders. And I would expect to hear the Word of God proclaimed by them in a goodly way.

The differences are to great in my estimation for such a mixed union.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f57/john-bunyan-baptist-churchmanship-mark-dever-31238/#post383949

MODERATOR NOTE... This was not to start a baptism debate so please do not do it.
 

matt01

Puritan Board Senior
The PCA allows credo's to be in membership.

Unfortunately, with qualifications.

Unfortunate? Not necessarily. It should be with qualifications for the sake of unity.

With qualifications, in that not all PCA churches allow credos to become members, without giving up their beliefs on baptism. I am all for paedo churches not allowing credo members, but would prefer it to be uniform.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Unfortunately, with qualifications.

Unfortunate? Not necessarily. It should be with qualifications for the sake of unity.

With qualifications, in that not all PCA churches allow credos to become members, without giving up their beliefs on baptism. I am all for paedo churches not allowing credo members, but would prefer it to be uniform.

I don't blame them if they do not allow membership of credo's. Especially if they believe it is a sin. Some are more gracious than others maybe. A credo would make someone be confessionally baptized if they wanted to become a member in a Reformed Baptist Church. It would be sin for them to not have a confessional baptism since that is what they believe.

I do agree with membeship of paedo's and credo's with qualifications set in place concerning Church office and voting.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
It would seem to me that eventually, it would come to the parents failing to fulfill their membership vows. While subscription is not required, the WCF states:
Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
And while that is not in itself a violation of the membership vows, one of the vows is:
Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of this church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to heed its discipline?
So while technically, I suppose a session might think not subscribing to covenant baptism would not be restrictive of membership as long as it is not an issue. Though if a person has a child, the session should be working to instruct them as they are delinquent in doctrine. If then, after a long period of time of attempting to convince them of their error, they still do not "heed its discipline" the parents would be contumaciously holding to sin in disregard of their membership vows.

Those that are not baptized are not necessarily lost, but those that neglect the baptism of their children are in "great sin". When they are instructed in that error, and continue in such great sin, it is not only that sin they commit, but rebellion and violation of their vows. Should they be held to discipline for such action? I believe they should, and so if I were a credo baptist, I would either find a credo church, or start one. Joining a "good church" would mean joining one that would exercise loving discipline over the flock, and that would include not allowing the parents of a child to so neglect the baptism of their own children that they should not allow them to remain in fellowship.

This is no different than a credo church insisting that a person who being paedo and was baptized as an infant be baptized as an adult in order to join the church. I no of no baptist church that would allow a person baptized as an infant to join the church as an adult without submitting to baptism yet again, even though from a Presbyterian point of view, that is sin.

I do see that this would be a contradiction, but I think it would be impossible for a Baptist church to allow what they see as unbaptized adults to join their church, BUT I do think Paedos could allow the parents of unbaptized babies to be members. I do think that it is correct to baptize babies and include them in the visible church, however, I think to exclude parents because of their contrary understanding is too harsh. Especially if the church states (as most Presbyterian ones do) that you have to be a member for communion. Then the parents are left without the sacrament based on an issue that does not, in my opinion, separate them from Christ's love.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this does seem to be more of a complication for paedo churches than credo. While not all credo churches hold to the same standards for membership, I think that to be consistent membership should require believer's baptism. To fail to do so is disobedient and subjects one to church discipline. And to allow those baptized as infants is to allow, from a credo perspective, unbaptized members; i.e. those to become members who must be disciplined.
For a peado to be consistent in their understanding, though I disagree with their position, it seems that they must discipline any parent who refuses to baptize their child. Failure to do so would denigrate their understanding of the covenant.
I would, however, welcome a paedo to worship with us and welcome them as brethren, if not members of our church. I would hope the same consideration would be extended me if I were in a town with no sound alternative, and I would expect no more.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Joe,
A baptist can join our church. What if he gets married after he joins? Are we going to discipline him if he has children? What if he has only grown and previously baptized children?

The issue for me (and most sessions): willingness to be taught, to serious consider the teaching, not to "absent oneself" from the gathering if we are going to teach on that topic or witness an infant baptism.

Might as well say, "Hey, I'll come 90% of the time, except when you teach on eschatology. Nope, you can't teach me anything on that..."

That, It seems to me, is the whole issue. If someone wants membership and the Lord's Supper, then he is going to have to submit himself to the teaching of that church, without a "special reservation or exception." The Continentals go a bit farther, and give their members the Confession to sign and make their own. So it behooves them to know what they are confessing prior.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Bruce,
That's the decision your leadership has to make, and you will answer to God for it. I am not "teachable" if that means can I be swayed to the paedo view. And, though I mean absolutely no disrespect, I find the position that allows a family with unbaptized infants to be members of a paedo church a bit inconsistent. If it is God's mandate, then the parents are sinning. Can the church wink at such sin? Isn't that what allowing disobedient membership is? Still, I would rather go to a good Presbyterian church than a bad bapt one any day, even if I could not become a member.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Bruce,
That's the decision your leadership has to make, and you will answer to God for it. I am not "teachable" if that means can I be swayed to the paedo view. And, though I mean absolutely no disrespect, I find the position that allows a family with unbaptized infants to be members of a paedo church a bit inconsistent. If it is God's mandate, then the parents are sinning. Can the church wink at such sin? Isn't that what allowing disobedient membership is? Still, I would rather go to a good Presbyterian church than a bad bapt one any day, even if I could not become a member.

Joe,

I understand where you're coming from. It would seem a clean cut policy to exclude credos from membership. In the paedo mind are we in sin or not? Are we to categorize sin as to which sin is worthy of discipline and which sin is not?

There is a couple in our church that is moving to a sparsely populated area of central New York. Based on my research on their behalf there are no Calvinistic credo churches within 150 miles of their new home. However, there a few Presbyterian churches nearby. I know the husband is quite resolved in his credo position, and that is not likely to change. They have a young son who is preschool age. What should they do? Do they join a local fundamentalist Baptist church even though the husband disagrees with much of the teaching, or do they attend a Presbyterian church even if they are denied membership? This is a real life decision that needs to be made, not a hypothetical. If it were my decision to make I would attend the Presbyterian church as long as my family was able to partake of the Lord's Supper. If entrance to the table was denied, I would join the Baptist church and make the best of it. I would attempt to "undo" the deficiency in the church's teaching during family worship.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Presbyterian Church in America
Book of Church Order

Chapter 57
The Admission of Persons to Sealing Ordinances


1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of
God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save
in His sovereign mercy?

2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God,
and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him
alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?

3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon
the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as
becomes the followers of Christ?

4. Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and
work to the best of your ability?

5. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline
of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?

The vows are to God, witnessed by the visible church, including her lawful authority (governance through elders and deacons).

They require:

1) an examined and credible profession of faith
2) a confession of that faith
3) a vow to walk an orderly Christian life
4) a vow to support the church (time, prayers, finances)
5) a vow to submit to the governance and discipline of the church
6) a vow to peaceably study her doctrine

Some presbyterian and reformed denominations require more, e.g. to "confess" the church's doctrine by taking a promise of agreement with it, but the PCA and OPC do not.

In the PCA, officers must subscribe to "every proposition or statement" of the Westminster Standards unless granted a peer-reviewed exception. I can't imagine covenant baptism being an exception because it is so central to the covenant theology confessed.

So, what is the application of the vows to someone who is convinced infant baptism is not biblical?

First, a willingness to be taught as has been mentioned. The vow is to peaceably learn the church's doctrine, and in that way to submit to it. Someone who is unwilling to do that from the start cannot really in good faith take that vow.

It would seem to me someone who is trying to understand it, but not convinced of it could.

I would think that someone interviewing for membership who has infant children would need to be at least open to learning and peaceably studying the central church doctrine on that point. If they are a confirmed and outspoken in their belief against infant baptism, they ought not take the vows or be received in membership.

Remember God judges vows from both the external and the heart. He enforces them. Sometimes, He chooses to use the church visible in enforcing them, sometimes He uses other means for chastisement (for disobeying or carelessly taking vows).

It would seem to me that a church that does not believe in infant baptism ought hold to the same- for sake of the vows and integrity of the confession. It is better to be consistent. There is a biblical case that can be made for infant baptism and one that can be made for believers only baptism. But that would not seem to be a "flexible" doctrine to be consistent with a church's confession (that is a confessional church).

In practical fact, under the PCA system someone could be admitted for membership not being convinced of infant baptism and not agreeing to have their infant child baptized...

but over time, it would become inconsistent with their vows and profession and eventually, after much grace I would think, could become an issue for church discipline.

A person could also remain a "regular attender" indefinitely without taking those vows.

Remember too, "church discipline" takes many forms. In the PCA that is at least:

1) informal admonishment
2) formal admonishment
3) suspension from Lord's Supper
4) excommunication

Even a "regular attender" (not a member) can be informally admonished as part of general protection of the flock. They cannot be excommunicated but the lesser forms could be applied and they could leave without breaking the vows must take on that point. My understanding is discipline can in some cases be done in absense of the person for a member, but not for a non-member (e.g. regular attender).

Ecclesiastes 5

2Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

3For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.

4When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

5Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

6Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

7For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

We live in a generation perhaps that has less consciousness of vows. God has not forgotten.

The focus here is on the vows, what the covenant community confesses and your responsibility before God in that- not what one can "get away with" and not technically violate a vow in the context of new profession.:)
 
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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Scott, well said. In a sense it is a sad thing to have credos and paedos existing within, but also outside the church at the same time. Within, as visitors. Outside, as being excluded from membership. I can't help but think that elders should consider each case individually and extend grace were appropriate.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
But what we're left with when we accept brethren as regular attenders but not members is their inability to participate in the Lord's Supper.
I'm ok with not allowing them to vote, etc, but not refusing them the table.

Maybe if you were allowed to take the Lord's Supper just as being a member of the INVISIBLE church, this problem would be solved:worms:.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
But what we're left with when we accept brethren as regular attenders but not members is their inability to participate in the Lord's Supper.
I'm ok with not allowing them to vote, etc, but not refusing them the table.

Maybe if you were allowed to take the Lord's Supper just as being a member of the INVISIBLE church, this problem would be solved:worms:.

My church allows any baptized, professing believer to come to the table. All the Presbyterian churches that I've been to do that. Is that unusual?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
But what we're left with when we accept brethren as regular attenders but not members is their inability to participate in the Lord's Supper.
I'm ok with not allowing them to vote, etc, but not refusing them the table.

Maybe if you were allowed to take the Lord's Supper just as being a member of the INVISIBLE church, this problem would be solved:worms:.

You've got me thinking about this point.

My understanding is, the Lord's Table is visibly fenced by warning unbelievers not to partake, warning those walking a disobedient Christian life (e.g. under discipline, not regularly attending church, in major unrepentant sin) but allowing...

"any member in good standing of a church where this Gospel is preached"- that phrase does seem to require membership though- not necessarily that church but another evangelical church, whatever membership there might entail.

Your post has me considering whether a regular attender, who is not still a member of an evangelical church elsewhere can partake of the Lord's Supper:think:

Practically, this can be complex in that other churches often have little or no formal membership requirements or process for dismissal or transfer. E.g. someone leaves a Baptist Church, is in good standing there but has been regularly attending a reformed presbyterian church (and getting excited about the doctrines of grace) for a year.

In my thinking, this situation would still allow the believer to partake. We would want to interpret as generously as possible to not deny access to this means of grace, but at the same time to protect it. Biblically, I don't see how membership, technically is quite at the heart of it.:think:
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Bruce,
That's the decision your leadership has to make, and you will answer to God for it. I am not "teachable" if that means can I be swayed to the paedo view. And, though I mean absolutely no disrespect, I find the position that allows a family with unbaptized infants to be members of a paedo church a bit inconsistent. If it is God's mandate, then the parents are sinning. Can the church wink at such sin? Isn't that what allowing disobedient membership is? Still, I would rather go to a good Presbyterian church than a bad bapt one any day, even if I could not become a member.

Joe,

I understand where you're coming from. It would seem a clean cut policy to exclude credos from membership. In the paedo mind are we in sin or not? Are we to categorize sin as to which sin is worthy of discipline and which sin is not?

There is a couple in our church that is moving to a sparsely populated area of central New York. Based on my research on their behalf there are no Calvinistic credo churches within 150 miles of their new home. However, there a few Presbyterian churches nearby. I know the husband is quite resolved in his credo position, and that is not likely to change. They have a young son who is preschool age. What should they do? Do they join a local fundamentalist Baptist church even though the husband disagrees with much of the teaching, or do they attend a Presbyterian church even if they are denied membership? This is a real life decision that needs to be made, not a hypothetical. If it were my decision to make I would attend the Presbyterian church as long as my family was able to partake of the Lord's Supper. If entrance to the table was denied, I would join the Baptist church and make the best of it. I would attempt to "undo" the deficiency in the church's teaching during family worship.

I think the preaching of the Word would trump the LS. In other words,, I would go where the preaching is even if it means being barred from the LS.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Remember too, "church discipline" takes many forms. In the PCA that is at least:

1) informal admonishment
2) formal admonishment
3) suspension from Lord's Supper
4) excommunication

Even a "regular attender" (not a member) can be informally admonished as part of general protection of the flock. They cannot be excommunicated but the lesser forms could be applied and they could leave without breaking the vows must take on that point. My understanding is discipline can in some cases be done in absense of the person for a member, but not for a non-member (e.g. regular attender).

Just for clarification, attenders could be disciplined under 1,2 and 3 correct? Is that what you mean by 'lesser forms'? If so, this would be an argument in favor of allowing non-members to partake of the LS! One more avenue for church discipline.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
But what we're left with when we accept brethren as regular attenders but not members is their inability to participate in the Lord's Supper.
I'm ok with not allowing them to vote, etc, but not refusing them the table.

Maybe if you were allowed to take the Lord's Supper just as being a member of the INVISIBLE church, this problem would be solved:worms:.

My church allows any baptized, professing believer to come to the table. All the Presbyterian churches that I've been to do that. Is that unusual?

I think the URC only allows members in good standing of Reformed churches. This is from the bulletin at Oceanside URC where Danny Hyde serves.

For this reason, our elders have the responsibility to oversee those who partake; therefore we welcome...

Those who are not members of one of the above, but who:
1. Believe in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation.
2. Have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. Are communicant members, not presently under church discipline, of a confessional Reformed or
Presbyterian congregation.

Maybe Rev Hyde could weigh in on how they handle this. (BTW, I visited once but during an evening service. It was a wonderful service and you wouldn't believe the view! Location, location, location!)
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Bruce,
That's the decision your leadership has to make, and you will answer to God for it. I am not "teachable" if that means can I be swayed to the paedo view. And, though I mean absolutely no disrespect, I find the position that allows a family with unbaptized infants to be members of a paedo church a bit inconsistent. If it is God's mandate, then the parents are sinning. Can the church wink at such sin? Isn't that what allowing disobedient membership is? Still, I would rather go to a good Presbyterian church than a bad bapt one any day, even if I could not become a member.

Joe,

I understand where you're coming from. It would seem a clean cut policy to exclude credos from membership. In the paedo mind are we in sin or not? Are we to categorize sin as to which sin is worthy of discipline and which sin is not?

There is a couple in our church that is moving to a sparsely populated area of central New York. Based on my research on their behalf there are no Calvinistic credo churches within 150 miles of their new home. However, there a few Presbyterian churches nearby. I know the husband is quite resolved in his credo position, and that is not likely to change. They have a young son who is preschool age. What should they do? Do they join a local fundamentalist Baptist church even though the husband disagrees with much of the teaching, or do they attend a Presbyterian church even if they are denied membership? This is a real life decision that needs to be made, not a hypothetical. If it were my decision to make I would attend the Presbyterian church as long as my family was able to partake of the Lord's Supper. If entrance to the table was denied, I would join the Baptist church and make the best of it. I would attempt to "undo" the deficiency in the church's teaching during family worship.

I think the preaching of the Word would trump the LS. In other words,, I would go where the preaching is even if it means being barred from the LS.

Ken,

In worship I do not believe there is any separation between the Word and sacrament since sacraments are commanded unto obedience in the Word. If other believing members of my household were prohibited from the Table, that would be an egregious offense to me. I would have to worship elsewhere unless there was no other option.

:duh:
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
In my church, credos can be members and even become deacons, but cannot become elders.

Technically, according to the Form of Gov't, this is incorrect, Andrew. I know you may have men currently serving that capacity (I believe you have stated such before), but deacons take same ordination vows (with the exception of the obvious word change) as elders. If a Session permits a man to become a deacon who is credo, it is doing so in violation of the Standards. If a man answers the vow in the affirmative but disagrees with it, there is obviously another problem.

Here is what the FoG says with regard to the ordination of elders/deacons:

D. ORDINATION AND INSTALLATION
1. The session shall meet before the service of ordination and installation to confer with the officers-elect and to hear any objections to the ordination and installation of such officers-elect.
2. The pastor of the congregation shall preside over the service of ordination and installation of ruling elders and deacons. If the congregation is without a pastor, the session shall invite some minister to preside.
3. At the time of the ordination and installation service, the officers-elect shall present themselves before the congregation, and shall solemnly promise, according to the annexed formula, to maintain the doctrine, government, discipline, and worship of the Church.

FORMULA FOR ORDINATION AND INSTALLATION
(1) Do you believe in one God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and do you confess anew the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, and acknowledge Him Head
over all things for the Church, which is His Body?
(2) Do you reaffirm your belief in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments
as the Word of the living God, the only perfect rule of faith and practice, to which nothing is to be added and from which nothing is to be taken at any time or upon any pretext?
(3) Do you accept the doctrines of this Church, contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, as founded on the Word of God and as the expression of your own faith and do you resolve to adhere thereto?
(4) Do you accept the government, discipline, and worship of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church?
(5) Do you accept the office of ruling elder (deacon) in this congregation; and do you promise to perform faithfully all the duties of the office; and do you promise to
endeavor by the grace of God to live your life in Christian witness before the church and in the world?
(6) Do you promise to submit in the spirit of love to the authority of the session and to the higher courts of the Church?
(7) Do you promise in all things to promote the unity, peace, purity, and prosperity of the church?

This is obviously a problem, and my advice is that you should speak to the Session of your church about it.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
People who aren't members (someplace!) aren't technically subject to ANY discipline, if by discipline we understand the recognition of authority and submission to it's force.

That's the entire point, summarized. Folks who will not belong to a church, are saying that THEY will be in charge of their spiritual lot, from beginning to end.


As far as negative church discipline goes, as in those 4 points above, a non-member isn't subject to ANY of them, not: "yes" to the first three, excepting excommunication.

"Discipline" is both a positive and a negative reality. Positively the church disciplines through teaching (nurture) and by permissions to do things like "take the Lord's Supper."

I'm sorry, but no professing Christian has a RIGHT to the Lord's Supper. Hear me? NO RIGHT to it.

You don't even have a RIGHT to preaching, or to baptism--if by "right" you mean access on your own terms. That's the definition of "right," and rights are typically granted by a higher authority--unless there is NO higher authority.


The family analogy is perfectly apt. My children do not have "rights" to the privileges of my house. They do not have a "right" to the refrigerator, a "right" to the car keys, a "right" to education.

There is a just argument that they have some "rights" granted them by God, which their Mother and I are supposed to respect and in some cases provide for (according to our wisdom and judgment). Those "rights" are supposed to mediated to those children through the authority structure of this house. They enjoy those "rights" through the parents.

The principle of "appeal" (to higher authority) is the mechanism by which lesser authority is held accountable for its activity in mediating the rights of subordinates. But anyone who thinks that he's ONLY accountable to God will be disturbed to find that God is displeased with wholesale disregard for the forms He established. There is such thing as "abuse of authority," but such abuse is no license to disparage authority.

I exercise discipline in my house by FEEDING my children: "Come and eat, NOW." By EDUCATING my children: "2+2=4, memorize it" "i before e except after c, your answer is wrong" "did you read your history assignment? good job." By TAKING THEM to church, to grandma's, to the eye doctor, AND to the woodshed.


Discipline is not merely PUNISHMENT! It is the LIFE of the church. Receiving Baptism and the Lord's Supper are BENEFITS of belonging to Christ. So is sitting under Gospel ministry. All the blessings of discipline are just as much a free gift of God as a new heart.

No sensible church will turn away people from hearing the gospel, from hearing the Bible preached in fullness. Because that is the DOOR to heart-submission to God in every area. They should open that venue to ALL, and not just to members.

And they should be sensible about admitting members of the church-universal to their own table, but they may set their own rules as to the manner they will allow it. But it is out of the question that someone who CANNOT BE EXCOMMUNICATED (by any body) should be IN-COMMUNICATED, that is, permitted to the Table.

A half-moment's reflection should be sufficient to make this perfectly clear. That man is his OWN BOSS. his own authority. OK fine, then he can get his own Lord's Supper from himself, or from Christ himself. After all, he doesn't need anything mediated to him, so he can just find a church without any standards, or one that has no idea they will be held accountable by Christ for the care they exercised in these matters.


The point, as far as an unpersuaded Baptist holding membership in a Presbyterian church goes--he is a sinner, and his mind (to our way of thinking) needs sanctification in this area. Shall we punitively discipline a member who tells us "I am having trouble getting my head around the idea of Limited Atonement"?

Admonish him? Scold him? Keep him from the Table? Why?! He needs to keep coming, and have a teachable spirit. He needs to "believe that he may understand."

Obviously, if a man cannot be persuaded of a church's doctrine or practice, if he's hardened to it, then he cannot become a member. Or he needs to find another church, to which authority he can honestly submit. But a man in error should listen in the congregation. He should be submissive to the loving, patient, parent-like care of a church's minister and elders.
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
The point, as far as an unpersuaded Baptist holding membership in a Presbyterian church goes--he is a sinner, and his mind (to our way of thinking) needs sanctification in this area. Shall we punitively discipline a member who tells us "I am having trouble getting my head around the idea of Limited Atonement"?

Admonish him? Scold him? Keep him from the Table? Why?! He needs to keep coming, and have a teachable spirit. He needs to "believe that he may understand."

Obviously, if a man cannot be persuaded of a church's doctrine or practice, if he's hardened to it, then he cannot become a member. Or he needs to find another church, to which authority he can honestly submit. But a man in error should listen in the congregation. He should be submissive to the loving, patient, parent-like care of a church's minister and elders.

Perhaps I am being thick-headed, but I'm not entirely clear on what you're saying here. Could you clarify? Are you saying you would allow a credo-Baptist to become a member as long as they had a teachable spirit? Or are you saying that allowing membership of a Credo-Baptist into a paedo-Baptist church is unwise?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Remember too, "church discipline" takes many forms. In the PCA that is at least:

1) informal admonishment
2) formal admonishment
3) suspension from Lord's Supper
4) excommunication

Even a "regular attender" (not a member) can be informally admonished as part of general protection of the flock. They cannot be excommunicated but the lesser forms could be applied and they could leave without breaking the vows must take on that point. My understanding is discipline can in some cases be done in absense of the person for a member, but not for a non-member (e.g. regular attender).

Just for clarification, attenders could be disciplined under 1,2 and 3 correct? Is that what you mean by 'lesser forms'? If so, this would be an argument in favor of allowing non-members to partake of the LS! One more avenue for church discipline.

In practical effect, probably only #1 for a regular attender.

Formal admonishment involves more process (remember, presbyterians are (often for good biblical reason) big on process, appeal, etc.)

When verbally fencing the Lord's Supper (e.g. for the Pastor to say that someone who is "a member in good standing of a church where this gospel is preached"), is a generalized instruction, not really particularized to a person. Discipline is always particularized to the alleged offender.

It's not a "suspension" in the sense of a step of discipline.
 
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