Young guy, PCA background, baptist church?

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by zsmcd, Mar 30, 2015.

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  1. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m a young guy (23), newly married (three months), and expecting our first child October 30th. I just recently moved and have had trouble settling down into a church. Surprisingly, the problem isn’t that there aren’t any good churches. There are actually an abundance of good churches which makes settling down a bit more difficult.

    I’ve only recently taken the dive into covenant theology after I got married and realized that I might soon have a kid. I want to be obedient to God & his Word and so I have sought out what the word says about infant baptism. I am leaning far towards the Presbyterian side; I am just still having trouble grasping the continuity/discontinuity of the Mosaic covenant. I am seeing a lot of clarity viewing it in the same sort of lenses that John Owen, Kline, Horton, etc. view it. But again, I still have a lot to study, learn, and pray about. If I feel such strong conviction (currently) towards infant baptism would I be disobedient if I attended a reformed baptist church and didn’t baptize my child? My wife has a background in a Sovereign Grace church and so I'm slowly trying to show her the evidence for infant baptism, but she still isn't used to the differences in the PCA.

    I’ve sought a lot of counsel from some good friends but 99% of my mentors/friends are credos, so of course they keep telling me to just ditch pedobaptism altogether. Thanks in advanced all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  2. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    As you may well understand, the theology of infant and adult baptism extends beyond a simple notion as to whether water on an infant or an adult. The matter is more elaborate. There are other differences in Baptist theology compared to Reformed theology, so, you may want to familiar yourself with that particular local Baptist church on the other elaborations of theology they hold that may differ from a Reformed church.*

    Obviously one example is church government. Another possibility is to how much does that local Baptist church resist the "good and necessary consequences" clause of the Westminster Confession of Faith. There might be more, and it might fit you. I am not insinuating if such differences would or would not suit you. That would be your decision obviously.

    *Disclaimer. When I say Reformed separated from Baptist I am simply referring to the historical understanding of the term (Reformed) that dates back to the Reformation. Other threads on the puritanboard go into more detail on this subject so I will not here.
     
  3. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Yeah, I have been doing a lot of reading of Baptist materials to try to get a grasp on their theology. Although I am remaining largely more convinced of the reformed tradition, I am still in that stage of learning where I am not 100% convinced on those doctrines that separate the two. I am fully convinced and see total scriptural evidence for the doctrines of grace, but am still learning on other areas. I just feel disobedient because I haven't became a member of a church and I feel like I am not leading my wife very well because of this.
     
  4. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Randy might be a good help to you Zachary. He has dealt with all of this stuff you are talking about. I'll PM him and make sure he stops in.

    I know the elder at the PCA church in Arlington well. I could give you his contact information too.

    The Westminster Standards say this, "V. Although it is 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."

    Since it is closely linked to circumcision, remember the language about it in Genesis 17, "
    Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
     
  5. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    I've met with the pastor at the church in Arlington. Great guy, he met with me to discuss CT and gave me a intro book to CT and infant baptism which helped a lot.
     
  6. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    First, I think Mr. Barnes gave wise advice. Also Randy would be very helpful.

    Secondly out of curiosity for my clarity's sake. Are you not 100% convinced that the doctrine's in question truly separate the two? Or just not 100% on those doctrines that do separate the two, therefore you desire more understanding on those specific doctrines?

    Thanks. And I want to add I find it wonderful that you are deliberating upon this very important application in the life of your family and you are not being rash and ignorant. Truly wonderful! Praise the Lord.
     
  7. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    I am not 100% convinced of infant baptism & Presbyterian CT in the same way that I am convinced of the doctrines of grace, the Gospel, etc. I do wholly understand how the doctrines separate Baptists and Presbyterians drastically; which is why as you noted, I am desiring further understanding in them.

    Also, being newly married and expecting a child has drastically changed the seriousness of choosing a church (which I am not used to). Where as in the past I was only responsible for my own spiritual health and could become a member of a 'reformed' Baptist church without hesitation, I am now called to shepherd two others and therefor having to make much more firm decisions in church membership.
     
  8. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Genesis 17 has been a huge influencer by the way. Reminding me of the seriousness of the issue at hand.
     
  9. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    I know what you mean. When I was young our family went to a Seventh Day Adventist church after my father had already took us out of the Roman Catholic church, aside from the brief moment we were in a Pentecostal church (though I was but an infant and do not remember all of this except the Seventh Day church). Then my family stopped going to church all together. I did not return to church until after years of being married and then my son was about four. My wife had gone to church her whole life and was taking my son. God used my son to testify to me my terrible sin. And my wife's quiet witnessing to me each and every week finally by God's grace sunk in. My son being of the age (4) that I became concerned as to what the church may be teaching him stirred me to start attending. It was a PCUSA church so praise God I started to attend because a lot has changed for our family since then. Even before attending church I had thought I was Christian, my wife and I before marriage took counsel from her pastor. There was a lot going on at the time when my son was about 4 and it had all come to a climatic head by God's providence, but to make a long story short God definitely used my son to stir and reflect on my terrible sin. The fatherly responsibility took a spiritual turn in the awareness as to what not just as a person solely unto myself that I was not doing (going to church) but as a father as to what I should be doing (not just leading my family to church but a father does shepherd in a certain way and has to be aware and applicable to the spiritual safety of his household).

    Of course you do not possess all the background that I had. You have been going to church, etc.... just not a member of one at this time. My comparison was narrowly focused on how much God has used our sons to stir a decision that will be life changing.
     
  10. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    Reminds me of the book William the Baptist , which I think is a simple yet convincing
    treatment on baptism. William had come to the issue of whether his child to be should
    have the covenant sign and seal administered, and his scruples and objections. Maybe
    helpfull.
     
  11. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Zachary,

    Can you help us understand why, with many good church options existing, and with you (mostly) convinced of the Presbyterian position, you haven't simply joined a Presbyterian church by now? Is it because you have trouble choosing unless you're 100% sure you're making the right choice? Or are there other factors that cause you to lean toward a certain Baptist church, with the expected child making you hesitant?

    I can tell you from experience that being in a Baptist church if you have paedobaptist convictions will present difficulties. It has for me, and I had the advantage of moving to my current Baptist church only after my children were already baptized. The difficulties would be more trying for someone at your stage of life. So is there some reason why the Baptist option is enticing?

    If it's just a matter of wanting to be sure, I will suggest that the expected child might help you simply to make the best decision you can and jump in with one church. Picking a church is often not a matter of absolute certainty; we just have to go with what seems best at the time.
     
  12. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Jeff great book on mode of baptism, I think the last chapter? on infant baptism is not so good.
     
  13. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Jack, I think my hesitation is due to my wife's background. She grew up in a Pentecostal home and she left her parents church because of the abuses of the gifts of the Spirit and because they weren't preaching the Gospel. She joined a pretty great Sovereign Grace congregation and has embraced the doctrines of grace for the most part. However, she still isn't used to the reformed worship distinctives. So leaving the SG church and attending a PCA church has been a bit of a shock to her.

    Just as a side note, we dated long distance for two years and never lived in the same city so we were never church members together. We did however have numerous biblical discussions. So this is our first time being church members together.
     
  14. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    This is a good book: Amazon.com: Baptism: Three Views (9780830838561): David F. Wright, Sinclair B. Ferguson, Bruce A. Ware, Anthony N. S. Lane: Books

    The Christian church confesses "one baptism." But the church's answers to how, whom and when to baptize, and even what it means or does, are famously varied. This book provides a forum for thoughtful proponents of three principal evangelical views to state their case, respond to the others, and then provide a summary response and statement. Sinclair Ferguson sets out the case for infant baptism, Bruce Ware presents the case for believers' baptism, and Anthony Lane argues for a mixed practice. As with any good conversation on a controversial topic, this book raises critical issues, challenges preconceptions and discloses the soft points in each view. Evangelicals who wish to understand better their own church's practice or that of their neighbor, or who perhaps are uncertain of their own views, will value this incisive book.

    This is a fascinating essay by Vern Poythress: Indifferentism and Rigorism He is a prof at Westminster TS. Don't let the title throw you. It is more or less an appeal to Baptists to take a long hard look at what they claim baptism means and be willing to apply that to very young children who evidence simple faith. Excellent! Might be a nice middle ground for you and your wife; if she can't go paedo maybe she could see the validity of baptizing at age 2,3,4.

    We have been in two PCA churches and it was never a problem for Baptists to be members. My husband was in training to be an elder in one, but the Presbyterian came down strongly on Baptist elders ( which we certainly understand, that they think that is not an allowable exception to the WCF).

    In our current Baptist Church the Calvinist elders fully accept into membership anybody who was baptized as an infant and who considers their baptism valid. We do not require rebaptism. However our pastor has had people who really want their babies baptized, and he is not comfortable doing that, but he has some local paedo pastor buddies who will baptize babies, so they go elsewhere to get the baby baptized, then come back to our church. (Ok guys, I know you think that's pretty wierd, ha, don't flame me).

    I would NOT pick a church over this one subject. Not at all. There are so many good PCA churches as well as some bad apple PCA churches. And you can find a good Reformed baptist church or one that is way too legalistic ( women can't pray in a prayer meeting with men present, members must be at every meeting all week). This should be real low on the list for qualities of what church you pick. If you read old threads here that go on forever, you will see that some incredibly fine people are pastors and members in both churches.
     
  15. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Zach,

    I am the Randy the other guys are referring to. I have been one of the leaders on the PB for years. You have a few issues at hand that are very important. One is your wife. She is the person you are to cleave to and grow in in grace with. She is a joint heir in Christ with you. You are to live with her according to knowledge. That last statement is a very important and a hard one to understand and live. You are to make sure you guys are working together in life as a Union and not just as in Unity. Union and Unity are not necessarily the same. You guys are One in a Covenant way that you aren't with anyone else in this life. Of course we all have Union with Christ. But in that, the marriage Covenant is most precious. It is to reflect an image of the same loving relationship that Christ has with the Church on an individual basis differing from all others. So you need to really be patient in leading and walking through life with your wife.

    On the other issues I can send you to some links on my blog that will relate to you what I have learned concerning Covenant Theology. I was a Reformed Baptist for 30 years. I mainly studied Reformed Baptists and similar thought for many years. I got interested in the Mosaic Covenant teachings due to some of the recent conflicts in the Church. I mean as recent as in the past decade. I think they may be beneficial and help you gain some insight. If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask me. If some things are of a more private issue I would recommend you seek out good Elders in your area. Church Leadership is so important to our growth and they are gifts from God to us that we may grow.

    Anyways I will post two blog posts. One will be explaining why I started delving deeper into studying the Mosaic Covenant. The other will be to show that the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant are both fully Administrations of the Covenant of Grace. That is really important as that is the biblical truth and the confessional understanding of the Divines of Westminster.

    The Mosaic Covenant Same in Substance as the New?
    https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-mosaic-covenant-same-in-substance-as-the-new/

    Why I was drawn into the nuanced republication and Mosaic Covenant Study
    https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.c...nced-republication-and-mosaic-covenant-study/
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  16. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Your concern not to push your wife into making vows she isn't comfortable with is, I think, a sensible reason for taking your time with church membership. It may even be a valid reason for delaying a child's baptism, though a local pastor who knows the two of you would be in a better position to advise you on that. In any case, your desire to be in agreement with your wife is a sign of wisdom and maturity.
     
  17. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    You and your wife should understand that you don't have to subscribe to the Westminster standards to join a PCA church. It might be helpful if you went over the membership vows with her, and then perhaps with the pastor. And then the baptismal vows. She may find that she doesn't have an issue with them when she works through them.

    Membership (From Rev. Greco's church: Christ Church, PCA: Katy, TX )

    1 Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save [except] 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?

    Baptism:

    1. Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?

    2. Do you claim God’s covenant promises in (his) behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for (his) salvation, as you do for your own?

    3. Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before (him) a godly example, that you will pray with and for (him), that you will teach (him) the doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring (him) up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
     
  18. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I agree with Edward. He makes a good point. I was a member of a PCA mission Church here in Indiana and I was a Credo Baptist. Our Sponsoring Church, Trinity from down in Jackson, Mississippi, sent up some people to help go door to door. One of the lead guys was a Credo Baptist. So Edward is correct. You don't have to hold to paedo-baptism to be a communicate member in the PCA.
     
  19. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    This is all very helpful thank you for your insights and encouragement. I will check out those blog posts Randy, and thank you for the encouragement to serve my wife in union with her. I think I am going to walk through the WCF section on baptism and talk with my pastor about getting our membership covenant and baptism vows and such. Thank you all! Grace & peace.
     
  20. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    In general, I think the American society is too mobile to get caught up in finding (or creating) the perfect church. People spend years trying to find/make the perfect church only to move away a couple of years later. Find the church where you and your family can best serve the Lord together and go with it.
     
  21. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Zach,

    I have to agree with Randy on this.

    Covenant theology is really the underlining issue. There is a fundamental difference between reformed baptists and presbyterian/reformed. I used to be baptist (not even close to the length Randy was) and I read all the material I could find from the Reformed Baptist Institute. Then I started reading historically reformed material. I believe the most biblical understanding came to me from O. Palmer Robertson's "The Christ of The Covenants". Also, Herman Witsuis "Economy of the Covenants" was very helpful. (This is quite more difficult to read)
     
  22. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Randy, finally got a chance to check out your posts. Great work, very helpful and encouraging. I have struggled with the republication debate for a while now. I am definitely guilty with reading justification by works into the Old Testament (especially the Mosaic) and your work was helpful to see God's graciousness in the Mosaic Covenant. I am however still having a bit of trouble fully understanding Hebrews 8.

    I'm having trouble understanding how:
    - the Mosaic covenant and NC are different administrations of the CoG and yet the Mosaic was not "faultless" and the NC is "enacted on better promises" than the Old. Doesn't CT teach that the promise given in the proto evangel, Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, etc. all the same?
    - the fault that the Lord seems to find with the Mosaic is that Israel did not continue in the covenant.
    - the better promise of the NC seems to be regeneration. "I will put My laws into their minds,
    And I will write them on their hearts"
    if this is so than how do we view OT believers? Were they not regenerate?

    Please pardon my ignorance on a lot of these topics. I've only been studying Covenant Theology for about two or three months now. And again, thank you for your patience and wisdom.
     
  23. R Harris

    R Harris Puritan Board Sophomore

    Then there is also the example in Exodus 4 where the "LORD sought to kill Moses," (Exodus 4:24) obviously well before he had even made it back to Egypt and confront Pharaoh! Why was God doing this? Because Moses had neglected to circumcise his son. Zipporah was not pleased, throwing the foreskin at Moses' feet and essentially saying "is this what your God wants??" Yeah Zipporah, that is what God wanted. She eventually fell in the wilderness with the others of that generation.

    Matthew Henry correlated this episode with the neglect of not baptizing infants . . . . .
     
  24. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    A quick update:
    My wife has been sick due to pregnancy, but I went and checked out a different PCA church on Sunday. I think this might be the best place for us. However, my wife is not used to liturgical styles of worship at all (she grew up in charismatic churches and went to a Sovereign Grace church for the past few years). Anyone have any experience or any tips on how to help my wife to better understand/enjoy reformed worship? She isn't very "charismatic" herself but because of her background she feels like because most of the congregation aren't raising their hands and what not that the worship feels kind of "unworshipful".
     
  25. waltongreen

    waltongreen Puritan Board Freshman

    Two great worship books I read when I was first transitioning from Broad Contemporary Evangelicalism to the PCA were:

    http://www.amazon.com/With-Reverence-Awe-Returning-Reformed/dp/0875521797
    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Johnny-Cant-Sing-Hymns/dp/1596381957

    Also, there is this pamphlet by Paul Jones which my church had in the lobby. I borrowed all 3 of these great resources (so I didn't have to buy them) just by asking the pastor. So, if you're meeting with that PCA pastor seriously and can convince him that you're not going to run off with his books, you could be in luck.

    http://www.amazon.com/What-Is-Worship-Music-Basics/dp/1596381981
     
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