Should Paedo churches allow Baptist members to not baptize infants?

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greenbaggins

Administrator
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I don't have any problem whatsoever with allowing credo people to join my church. When they vow to submit to the governance and discipline of the church, that vow should not be interpreted as saying that if they refuse to become paedo, they will be expelled from the church. On this thread, I have seen a too-narrow definition of church discipline. Church discipline is not only negative. Bruce was getting at this a bit in terms of willingness to be taught. That is the key. The discipline involved with a credo brother or sister in Christ would involve long, careful, biblical exposition and teaching that could take place over years. To a paedo-baptist, the position of credo baptism should not be nearly the same thing as living in sin. Discipline is teaching. If after several years of patient instruction (and if often takes that long!), the credo is still unconvinced, then I would encourage them to seek another church, but I would never expel them. That is exercising church discipline, but it doesn't have to be on the road to excommunication. We need to broaden our definition of discipline. Of course, as has been mentioned, there are several Reformed churches that require confessional adherence in order to be a member. The PCA only requires that of office-bearers, and not of its members.

For the most part I would agree, but the confession calls neglecting baptism is a great sin. Would you withhold membership from an adult professing believer if they did not submit to baptism? If so, what is so different between that and withholding baptism from their children? Would you allow membership and then go through a long process of instruction in order to bring them to the point of understanding baptism is required?

What I am not saying is that those that are credo cannot be admitted to membership, and that the process of instruction should not be gentle, persistent, and long in duration. But it would seem to me that not eventually going to more and more severe as it becomes evident that the parents are not just not convinced, but are unwilling to submit to authority over them in their indecision.

Ultimately, the position of the WCF is that those who neglect baptism are in great sin. For a believer, this negligence would be their own baptism, and it is unlikely the person so neglecting baptism would be allowed to become a member. For parents of children, the neglecting of baptism would be for their children's baptism (as the parents would already be baptized if they were members) and it would still be, in the words of the confession, great sin.

Should any member of the church be living in a state of great sin and be allowed to the Lord's Supper? This is continuous, and in a paedo church, I think ought to be dealt with as any member in any flagrant public sin. Certainly it requires gentle, correction, teaching and guidance, but when does the church exercise the marks of the true church and exercise Biblical discipline in order to bring the erring sheep into the fold?

If great sin is not worthy of correction, then what do we call sins that are worthy of correction.

You raise good points here, Brian. I agree that neglecting baptism is a great sin, even infant baptism. But I do not believe that all sins should be dealt with in the same way. I guess what I look for is whether or not a person is willing to be taught, as Bruce mentioned. If that teachable spirit is there, then we can go a long ways. If the person came in under false pretences, saying that they are teachable, when in fact they're not, then we have a serious problem. And we should discipline for wrong opinions just as surely as for wrong practice. There should be no divorce between the two. I'm hearing agreement on this point in your post. But to me, the issue comes down to this: how do we define the visible church? If a person professes faith in Jesus Christ, is that not the most important requirement to belong to the visible church? The tightness of the circle for membership concerns me here. Would we be saying, for instance, that a credo cannot be part of the visible church, if we make paedo-baptism a membership requirement? Should the entrance requirements for a church be the same as the requirements of belonging to the visible church anywhere, at least in terms of correct doctrine? I think this issue deserves more thought and care.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
greenbaggins
But to me, the issue comes down to this: how do we define the visible church? If a person professes faith in Jesus Christ, is that not the most important requirement to belong to the visible church? The tightness of the circle for membership concerns me here. Would we be saying, for instance, that a credo cannot be part of the visible church, if we make paedo-baptism a membership requirement?

Good discussion, all.

Perhaps what we are discussing is a couple of different aspects of membership- one is "de facto" membership in the visible church, the other is membership in a confessional church.

Some denominations in the reformed tradition confess doctrine by requiring members to receive it rather completely, that is to confess it as members. In that context, it might be said membership is being a Christian and professing (confessing) a comprehensive doctrinal system.

So, there is the aspect of the vows in a denomination that requires doctrinal subscription by its members.

While there are some good biblical reasons for that, such as a unified confession and profession, this view of membership seems to go beyond the biblical model. Another aspect of that I view positively is that the standards might tend to be more proactively taught and exemplified in the life of the church.

For example, I don't see where in Scripture a comprehensive understanding of biblical doctrines, far less complete agreement with each one is needed to acknowledge what God has done... redeeming a sinner and adopting him into the Body of Christ. For officers, yes, who are qualified for their doctrinal understanding and example, but I don't see it biblically for membership generally.

One potential difficulty we might have here is in the fact we have a "high" view of the church and understand that someone can only "leave" a church by dismissal, transfer, excommunication or death. A church that doesn't require doctrinal subscription vows by members would more easily be able to dismiss a member to a church with a different view (e.g. a church that believes infant baptism dismissing to a believer's only church). It would be very difficult to dismiss someone from a church requiring member doctrinal subscription to do that, but the member likely would have been already persuaded of the view in the case of required member doctrinal subscription.

It seems to me reformed theology is deep. It is profound. I haven't understood every doctrine at once, nor does that seem to ordinarily be the pattern of others. It seems growing in those doctrines, and learning to do it peaceable, respecting ecclesiastical authority is part of what membership in the visible church is all about.:)
 
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Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
You raise good points here, Brian. I agree that neglecting baptism is a great sin, even infant baptism. But I do not believe that all sins should be dealt with in the same way. I guess what I look for is whether or not a person is willing to be taught, as Bruce mentioned. If that teachable spirit is there, then we can go a long ways. If the person came in under false pretences, saying that they are teachable, when in fact they're not, then we have a serious problem. And we should discipline for wrong opinions just as surely as for wrong practice. There should be no divorce between the two. I'm hearing agreement on this point in your post. But to me, the issue comes down to this: how do we define the visible church? If a person professes faith in Jesus Christ, is that not the most important requirement to belong to the visible church? The tightness of the circle for membership concerns me here. Would we be saying, for instance, that a credo cannot be part of the visible church, if we make paedo-baptism a membership requirement? Should the entrance requirements for a church be the same as the requirements of belonging to the visible church anywhere, at least in terms of correct doctrine? I think this issue deserves more thought and care.

You also raise an excellent point on what is the definition of the visible church. I take the visible church to be all those who can agree to one of the historic creeds (Apostles' Creed, Nicaean Creed, or even the Athanasian Creed). But just because a person is part of the visible church, does not mean they should be members of a particular church unless they feel they are truly teachable. For instance, while I can understand someone that is a tea-totaler being a member of our church, they are going to have to be teachable in order to join the the LS (we use wine). If someone wanted to practice paedo communion, they would have to refrain and be willing to be taught. Someone that had not been baptized would have to submit to baptism to join, and be willing to be taught regarding paedo baptism. Someone that was a pacifist would need to be willing to be taught (our church has an active, though not mandatory, self-defense training for children ... we would not want someone saying it was wrong to teach children not to defend themselves from being abducted). If someone were an abortionist, I would hope they would be quickly required to stop killing children.

Not all of those are the same ... the WLC says that not all sins are equally heinous in themselves. The love of the body does cover over much sin, but it is not always against the body that a sin is committed. Any sin, for which a person is unrepentant becomes heinous more so because of the aggravation of contumacy. So nearly anything for which a person, when it is pointed out in love and concern could escalate to greater levels. If admonition is ignored, and the sin is practiced, eventually the issue is no longer what might otherwise be a less heinous sin.

But I think we generally agree ... if a credo were to join, and they were teachable, then it would not rise to the point of asking them to remove themselves. It might rise to that level if after years of council, they refused to have the sacrament given to their children. In a sense, I would be looking at the time as something less than what would be expected for a child to stand before the session on their own. If a couple had a 2 year-old, and did not have them baptized by the time the child was 10, that is eight long years of living in "great sin" from a WCF standpoint.

If it were some other area of life in which a person was trapped in "great sin" would we be so lacking in our care of the purity of the church to let someone continue unrepentant in that sin? Suppose someone was a drunkard? Or they never came to the Lord's Supper (or even came to church). Would we not in a period less than 8 years require some outward show of repentance?

Of course the only real outward show of repentance of neglecting the baptism of children would be to have the children baptized.

I would hope that my session would exercise care over my spiritual life to now allow me to have such a great sin for years without working with me to cause repentance. If we really hold to the confession, should we not expect the same for baptism?
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
I would hope that my session would exercise care over my spiritual life to now allow me to have such a great sin for years without working with me to cause repentance. If we really hold to the confession, should we not expect the same for baptism?

Oops, that was supposed to be "NOT allow me to have such a great sin..."

-----Added 9/6/2009 at 11:12:28 EST-----

One potential difficulty we might have here is in the fact we have a "high" view of the church and understand that someone can only "leave" a church by dismissal, transfer, excommunication or death. A church that doesn't require doctrinal subscription vows by members would more easily be able to dismiss a member to a church with a different view (e.g. a church that believes infant baptism dismissing to a believer's only church). It would be very difficult to dismiss someone from a church requiring member doctrinal subscription to do that, but the member likely would have been already persuaded of the view in the case of required member doctrinal subscription.

Death is not an option to leave a church ... the member transfers to the church of the redeemed in glory in the presence of the savior and rest until the resurrection on the last day. :)

It seems to me reformed theology is deep. It is profound. I haven't understood every doctrine at once, nor does that seem to ordinarily be the pattern of others. It seems growing in those doctrines, and learning to do it peaceable, respecting ecclesiastical authority is part of what membership in the visible church is all about.:)

I especially appreciate what you said here. It is very much my desire to respect authority, and a live peaceable life within the church. I would say that is a duty for all Christians everywhere ... some pursue it with more vigor than others.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Brian Withnell
the member transfers to the church of the redeemed in glory in the presence of the savior

Brian, that's an interesting understanding of what it means to "transfer."

Sounds like a great church you mention- do they have a web site?:lol::lol::lol:
 

dannyhyde

Puritan Board Sophomore
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!)

Requiring a visitor to be a member of a Reformed/Presbyterian church in order to be welcomed to the table is not the uniform practice in the URC.

Hi Ken,

We came to our position after 4–5 years of study as a consistory. Our conclusion was the the historic practice of the Dutch Reformed churches is "close" communion, meaning, communion is administered to those in the congregation and its sister congregations, and those who are members of a church with a common profession of the faith (i.e, other Reformed churches). This was the position of the Church Order of the Synod of Dort as well as the Christian Reformed Church's historic Church Order (art. 61), which was changed in recent decades. Many of those changes were adopted in our circles as if they were the traditional practice, when in fact they were novel.
 

johnowen

Puritan Board Freshman
I have a friend who is a pastor in a non-Reformed church. He is very Reformed and he is well-accepted by the other pastor and elders and congregation. There is only one thing; he cannot change the credo-baptism into paedo-baptism. Instead of paedo-baptism, the church does paedo-dedication (no water involved), just the public commitment of the parents, and church certificate is issued as a preparation for adult-baptism later.

Now:
1. My friend is not in the position to change the practice; if he does, he will either have to quit or split the church. Is this desireable for a Reformed Christian?
2. His congregation becomes more and more Reformed as years pass by, and they will not mind of changing credo into paedo baptism. The problem is they mind offending the synod of that church.

My friend's approach is: keep reforming the church along Reformed confessions and put the paedo/credo baptism in the back burner until the Lord permits the time without threatening the unity of the church and the peace of the congregational life. To me, this is the wisest and biblical choice.

I raise this issue because some of the tones in this topic is so absolute. As if, unless you do paedo-baptism, you are NOT a reformed brother.
In the light of this friend's situation, I would like to hear from you who require paedo-baptism as absolute mark of Reformed Christian.

Your thoughts are eagerly awaited.
 

Turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
"Wherefore receive ye one another..

..as Christ also received us to the glory of God." Rom. 15:7

I find it interesting that Paul expected even the Jews and Gentiles to receive one another. This despite the fact that Jews were naturally inclined to go absolutely bananas at the thought of Gentiles getting any of the promises that were "made unto the fathers" (It was the Jews who naturally revolted at Paul's use of the word "gentile", tore their clothes, tossed dust in the air, and yelled that Paul was not fit to live. Act 22:22). Yet he expected that gulf to be bridged.:um:
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Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
I raise this issue because some of the tones in this topic is so absolute. As if, unless you do paedo-baptism, you are NOT a reformed brother.
In the light of this friend's situation, I would like to hear from you who require paedo-baptism as absolute mark of Reformed Christian.

Your thoughts are eagerly awaited.

I don't know as very many people hold to paedo-baptism as an absolute mark of Reformed Christianity.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
..as Christ also received us to the glory of God." Rom. 15:7

I find it interesting that Paul expected even the Jews and Gentiles to receive one another. This despite the fact that Jews were naturally inclined to go absolutely bananas at the thought of Gentiles getting any of the promises that were "made unto the fathers" (It was the Jews who naturally revolted at Paul's use of the word "gentile", tore their clothes, tossed dust in the air, and yelled that Paul was not fit to live. Act 22:22). Yet he expected that gulf to be bridged.:um:
.

We are not crying anathemas at one another here. We are only trying to define what is Reformed and what is not necessarilly considered Reformed in the historical context of our confessions. No one here is declaring that another man is beyond the grace and forgiveness of God as the passage you are sighting. That is a gross overstatement.

Please read through the thread again or take a look at my blog post which follows this paragraph. I am a Reformed Baptist who loves the Reformed faith and holds it in high reguard. At the same time I still let the definitions stand. This is about Church membership and discipline concerning ones confession of faith. Not whether a person is in Christ or not.

Are Covenantal Baptists Reformed in the Historical Understanding of Reformed Theology - The PuritanBoard

BTW, some have changed postions after only studying it for 4 or 5 years. I have been a Reformed or Particluar Baptist for over 27 years now. Some people change. Some do not. Some even change to only change back. We have seen that on this discussion board. I have been a member of two Presbyterian Church denominations, PCA and RPCNA. We each have our disciplines and beliefs. I believe the distinctives are good and are helpful.

I posted this earlier in the thread. I recommed a relook at it.
http://www.puritanboard.com/f57/should-paedo-churches-allow-baptist-members-not-baptize-infants-52866/#post683381
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Well said, Randy. And with that, this thread has definitely run its course.
 
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