Thursday, August 09, 2007

I don't know how to put this, but it's kind of a big deal.

*Warning: The following is primarily intended for those who are convinced that a believer's baptism is the only means of "valid" baptism. I realize there will be those who disagree at this point, but the nature of the discussion centers upon how such persuaded persons should or could approach the issue of paedobaptism and church membership.*

(N.B. Wayne Grudem responded to Piper's disappointment. I've linked to it at the end.)

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology has been revised, with the most glaring change being the change of stance on the issue of baptism and potential allowance of paedobaptism in a Baptist(ic) church.
"I did not realize this difficulty when I first published this book in 1994. I have revised this entire section for the 2007 printing."

Read the fullness of the revision. (HT Justin Taylor)

Here's a pertinent portion of the revision:
But the most serious difficulty arises when people begin to think about what such a “compromise position” implies about the views of baptism held by the people who go along with this compromise. For people who hold to infant baptism, they have to be able to say that it is acceptable for believing parents not to baptize their infant children. But according to a paedobaptist view, this seems close to saying that is acceptable for these parents to disobey a command of Scripture regarding the responsibility of parents to baptize their children. How can they really say this?

On the other side, those who hold to believer’s baptism (as I do) would have to be willing to admit into church membership people who have been baptized as infants, and who did not make a personal profession of faith at the time they were baptized. But from a believer’s baptism position, genuine baptism has to follow a personal profession of faith. So how can believer’s baptism advocates in good conscience say that infant baptism is also a valid form of baptism? That contradicts what they believe about the essential nature of baptism – that it is an outward sign of an inward spiritual change, so that the apostle Paul could say, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). [Bold mine; italics original]

In response to this revision, my beloved Dr. John Piper shares his disappointment.

In the old version, Grudem wrote:
"This would mean that Baptist churches would have to be willing to allow into membership those who had been baptized as infants and whose conviction of conscience, after careful consideration is that their infant baptism was valid and should not be repeated. Of course, Baptist churches could be free to preach and to attempt to persuade prospective churches members that they should be baptized as believers, but if some, after careful consideration, are simply not persuaded, it does not seem appropriate to make this a barrier to membership."

Dr. Piper wrote:
"I agree with this. And the main reason I do is that excluding a true brother in Christ from membership in the local church is far more serious than most of us think it is.

When I weigh the kind of imperfection involved in tolerating an invalid baptism because some of our members are deeply persuaded that it is biblically valid, over against the kind of imperfection involved in saying to a son or daughter of the living God, “You are excluded from the local church,” my biblical sense is that the latter is more unthinkable than the former. The local church is a visible expression of the invisible, universal, body of Christ. To exclude from it is virtually the same as excommunication. And no serious church takes excommunication as an invitation to attend the church down the street."

Well, I understand from where the Pipe is coming, but would he not deny a person with no baptism whatsoever from membership? I think he would, but, at least as I understand it, the essence of Baptist-ness (even his) is that infant baptism is not a valid baptism and is, therefore, not a baptism.

I realize there is a spectrum here whereby some will deny membership unless one is actually baptized in that particularly congregation, but the problem is that a paedobaptist sees a believer's baptism as a legitimate baptism, but it doesn't work vice versa.

I'm no Baptist or Anabaptist apologist per se, but if it was no big deal, then why all the persecution and all to begin with. I would love to see that difference overcome in a local church, but I see it as a non-compromiseable issue.

Here's where I think the compromise is not realistic. A paedo obstinately (so it seems) refuses a believer's baptism after attempts to "persuade prospective church members that they should be baptized as believers." (Again, see Grudem's old version cited above.)

Well, I think you wind up with 2 classes of citizenship. Are there going to be certain positions in the congregation not open to him or her who was "only" paedobaptized? I think the practicality of it will be so.

Piper notes the new version from Grudem:
"For someone who holds to believer’s baptism, admitting to church membership someone who has not been baptized upon profession of faith, and telling the person that he or she never has to be baptized as a believer is really giving up one’s view on the proper nature of baptism."

Pipe disagrees, but I think Grudem is right on. If your view of the proper nature of baptism is that it is the entry rite into the new covenant community for those who have been regenerated and yet you have those who have not experienced this, how have you not given up your view of the proper nature of baptism?

I understand Piper's heart on the issue, but at the end of the day the Baptist has to cease to hold to a Baptist understanding of baptism. Is a valid baptism is necessary for church membership?

Paedobaptists would say, "Yes," and I think so would most Baptists, self included. Dr. Piper would say, "No."

I think you either say that a valid baptism is not necessary or you say that an infant baptism is valid. Dr. Piper would say no, you don't have to do either.
No. Admitting a conscientious paedobaptist to membership in a Baptist church would not say that the infant baptism is valid. What it does say is: “Your mistaken understanding of baptism and the invalid baptism that follows from it are not the kind of disagreement, mistake, and failure that we are going to use in defining the meaning of the local church. We view you as a brother whose resting place is Christ alone, through grace alone, by faith alone, to the glory of God alone. You are in the Body of Christ. You may be in this body of Christ.”
One on the one hand I appreciate his heart, because many of heroes of the faith are paedobaptists and I do not see the differences over baptism as prohibitive to fellowship.

However, if one believes, as I do, that a valid baptism is necessary for church membership, then I think I'm bound to insist on it. If I thought that person's understanding of baptism was "mistaken" and that the baptism following it was "invalid," don't I have an obligation to educate and help that person to more rightly walk in obedience?

Again, this is all presuming my understanding of the believer's baptism being the only correct one. I'm sure some will want to argue that point, but that's another discussion for another time.

I'm just trying to ask and answer whether or not a Baptist church can accept those into membership they see to have only experienced an invalid baptism (as they define it). I'd love to see an approach that doesn't force one group or both to compromise their deep convictions regarding baptism, but I'm not seeing it possible where one or both groups can do anything other than say, "Baptism's not that big of a deal."

(N.B. Wayne Grudem responded to Dr. Piper and the response can be read here. He seems to go my route of not being on board with a non-baptized person being a church member, which is essentially what you'd have if you allow those whom you perceive to have an invalid baptism.)

*Caveat, although this was/is primarily a discussion for the believer's baptism minded person, I also think this is uncompromisable for a paedobaptist community when it comes to believers' children, as Grudem mentioned. To have church members in a covenantal congregation not administer the sign of the covenant to their children would be sin and prohibit them from full membership in the covenant community. Again, you'd have a significant issue to overcome with 2 classes of membership at best.*

**Caveat to the above caveat, I've been reminded that there are those churches out there who seemingly have pulled this off without seeing the opposing views as being in sin.
Doug Wilson has a mixed paedo/credo church. Their micro-denom, the CREC, can admit both paedo and credo churches. As I've heard it, not administering baptism to children because you are honestly convinced of a credo position is not sin. It's not taking full advantage of the means of grace provided to you, but it's not sin.



At 09 August, 2007 14:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great topic Gunny and one I have often contemplated as I have encountered the hurt feelings of other Christians when they are offended by the insistence that they be "re-baptized" as a believing believer before joining this or that Baptist church. (This is yet another related topic: should Baptists insist on the proper mode of full immersion for church membership, i.e. an adult believer "baptized" after conversion by sprinkling such as Methodists and Lutherans?)

But for this post, a few quick thoughts of mine:

1. I don't think it is necessary in our day and age to feel that just because a believer is denied membership in our particular church that he is denied the benefits of a church family at all. I mean that we know there are 93-thousand other options for that guy/gal to pursue, and there are 93-thousand available because of such differences of interpretation. So, I don't think we (believer's baptism purists) need to feel guilt that we are denying such folks membership because it does not equate to denying them total church fellowship. I think the dear Pipe is overstating that with the whole excommunication analogy. Besides, Paedos are welcome to fellowship and worship at our church but just cannot serve or enjoy that which requires membership. I mean, we don't run Paedos out of the building and we certainly don't return their checks ;) I suppose a definition of what "membership" is and should mean is also warranted. I do not equate non-membership with excommunication.

2. Membership must be guarded to protect the integrity and identity of the church. I mean, particularly in our autonomous Baptist world, once you allow Paedos to join - it's possible - how long until the Paedos are the majority and then change the doctrines and practice of the church. As reformed Baptists at Providence Church, we particulary have to guard ourselves from the infestation and corruption of Arminianism, so that those in error do not become the majority and then take over and change our logo and cause us uncompromising minority Calvinists to exodus and start another churh. (Yes, here in this aspect I equated Paedos = Arminians, sorry Paedos but just deal with it :) ) So, I have no problem with being very discriminating about whom can join our family as members - its one thing to have guests in your house and quite another to adopt them and let them move in.

3. It is odd to me the mentality of one who wants to join a church but insists on that church to change its rules before that person will join it. And further, I am bothered by one who will join that church with an activist motivation and agenda to change it into what they desire it to be - such a person is bent on disruption and rebellion and disunity; such a person should never be allowed to join the church. I am not saying any and all Paedos that want to join our church are such types; but at some level, they have a significant disagreement with the church leadership and presumably they hold this position firmly, so it is not hard to see how they might become activist on such sometime down the line, especially when emboldened by an increasing number of like-minded supporters. I also am not talking about those who join a church wanting to make it better where perhaps there is no leadership or position on such issue as in the case of a pastor called to change a languishing dying church; but rather I am talking about a church that is firmly positioned on an issue. I mean, I would never dream of joining a Lutheran church with the intention of trying to convert them into believer's baptists. As an example, we had at our former church a few individuals who had been attending and were wanting to join but would not because, merely as a mode to join, they insisted on a stereotypical traditional invitational "altar call" so they could walk the aisle and join like they wanted to. Well, their discontent grew into a number of members who agreed with them and proceeded to petition the pastor for just one altar call so these people could join, and with the pastor not compromising in this practice based on the theology of the church, these folks became verbally hostile in their discontent and quite disruptive to the unity of the church and damaging to the health of the church. Such folks should not be allowed to join the church, because they are a whole lot harder to deal with (church discipline) once they are empowered/implanted with membership.

To me, membership is a privilege and a responsibility, and not a right that can be demanded and expected.


At 09 August, 2007 19:35, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

I feel like I just received two tickets to the Gun show! :-)

Great post Gun! I've been following the back-and-forth on this off-and-on today. I agree with you. Grudem is right on this one.

A couple quick points:

You wrote:

"The problem is that a paedobaptist sees a believer's baptism as a legitimate baptism, but it doesn't work vice versa."

Since the term "believer's baptism" is loaded with Baptistic meaning (i.e. regeneration as a prerequisite), I think it is better to call the covenantal view "adult baptism." Of course, a profession of faith is required by covenantalists. But that is different from requiring regeneration.

And one question:

If baptism is only valid if the person is regenerate, and someone comes to the realization that they were not really regenerate when they were first baptized, would you then say that that person be removed from church membership, since they really weren't covenant members when first baptized, until they could receive a valid baptism?

My wife was baptized three times, because she came to an understanding that she wasn't really regenerate prior to the first or second baptisms. I think that is a consistent application of believer's baptism, but I'd never thought of the correlation to church membership until your post.

What do you think?

At 09 August, 2007 19:38, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

Oil wrote:

"Yes, here in this aspect I equated Paedos = Arminians, sorry Paedos but just deal with it :)"

Hey now, whoa, where's the love Oil? Sometimes a smiley just ain't enough. :-)

At 09 August, 2007 21:32, Anonymous jade said...

So Gunny, does this mean that Piper's church has officially changed their doctrine and let paedobaptists in for church membership? But if they did this, wouldn't this mean that all existing members would have to "re-agree" to the new doctrine? Apparently they agreed to the previous doctrine (believer's baptism). If current church members disagree to this, would that mean that they are no longer members of the church?

At 09 August, 2007 22:35, Blogger GUNNY said...

I think that's a valid question, Jay, about the necessity for re-membership.

I think, to be consistent, a person becoming convinced that he/she was not regenerate prior to baptism should seek re-baptism.

Again, this is for the Baptist, only for the Baptist, here. I'm talking to the Baptist ...

Consequently, if that person is a member of a Baptist church and comes to that conviction and seeks a re-baptism, since he/she now sees the other as invalid, then I think re-membership only makes sense.

I've only experienced this a few times where a person was a member and then sought re-baptism from me. We just rebapitized the person, but it never occured to me to have them re-seek membership. But, I'm thinking consistency would suggest, if not necessitate, such practice.

When those instances happened, I didn't have the lattitude as pastor to suggest such. I think the response would have been, "We were okay with Bubba last week, why do we need to re-assess and re-assimilate Bubba again?"

I can understand that, but I would think that as soon as a person comes to the conclusion (after some counsel) that he/she is not regenerate, we should realize that person cannot and may not be a member of the church.

Wouldn't the Baptist church have to say, you need to either remove yourself or we'll have to remove you from the membership? Wouldn't we have to then deal with the individual afresh?

Again, I'm just thinking through some of this as well.

Also, Jay, I appreciate a paedo perspective. Yes, you're comment on my comment make sense and is fair. What I meant to say (in a way less biased sounding) is that a new believer getting baptized after profession of faith would be seen as a legitimate form of baptism in either ecclesiology.

Yet, my question for you is how a person (like myself) would be received in a PCA church (e.g., PCPC)? Would they encourage me to have my kids take the covenantal sign?

What if I said, "That's not how I roll?" Would it not create tension in the church if my subsequent kids were not christened? Wouldn't my "going my own way" create tension and potential division in the body?

I ask because I think most assume you guys would take us Baptist folk without a second thought, but my understanding of covenantalism seems to indicate otherwise.

Also, in my own experience at St. Ebbe's Church (Church of Englan) at Oxford I saw some interesting action along these lines. There as a college student who had been raised CofE, but the rector/vicar consented to give him a "re-baptism" upon his recognition of his regeneration/conversion.

I didn't realize the significance of that action initially, but have gradually become aware of why some in the church were tender about that taking place.

Whoa, Jay, you gonna take that? Oil equating paedos with Arminians? I think you got served. I'd dance back if I was you. It's gonna take more than a smiley to atone for that one!

; - )

Jade, Bethelehem Baptist ultimately decided against making the change. But you raise a good question. Some might even say it would cease to be a Baptist church at that point. I'm not sure I would, but certainly some would. Might that signficant of a change necessitate a re-affirmation of membership? Perhaps to some it would.

From Dr. Piper's 2005 Annual Report:
Baptism and Membership

The Elders endeavored to lead the church toward a vision of local church membership that would not exclude any regenerate person whose public faith and life did not call the gospel into question. This involved constitutional amendments that would have allowed some persons who had not been baptized by immersion as a believer to join the church. As the time for a vote drew near in December, several elders changed their minds on the issue, and the Council thought that the differences of viewpoint on the Council were significant enough that to move forward at this time was unwise. The motion was withdrawn at the annual strategy meeting.

This was a personal disappointment to me. None of the arguments brought forward to oppose the original motion of the elders seemed compelling to me. I spent as much time as I could answering them. I remain persuaded that it is a more serious mistake to exclude a regenerate person from local church membership than to admit someone whose practice and understanding of baptism are defective but not undermining to the gospel.

At 10 August, 2007 09:01, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

Gun wrote:

"What I meant to say (in a way less biased sounding) is that a new believer getting baptized after profession of faith would be seen as a legitimate form of baptism in either ecclesiology."

I don't know. I think that's a tad bit imprecise.

A new believer (i.e. one who professes faith whether regenerate or not) being baptized would be a legitimate baptism in a covenantal church.

Whereas, for the baptist only a new believer (i.e. one who professes faith and is regenerate) being baptized would be a legitimate baptism.

It's not quite the same.

At 10 August, 2007 10:07, Blogger GUNNY said...

No, no, it's all good. I'm not saying that's the only scenario that would be acceptable, but that such a scenario would be acceptable to both.

Jay, I understand the ecclesiology is not the same, but both a Baptist church and a paedobaptist church would be on board with the following scenario:

Wes Mantooth reads one of the favorites of Jay the Bennett (e.g., The Prayer of Jabez) and becomes convinced of his conversion.

After checking him out and seeing him a legitimate baptism candidate, both churches would baptize him and accept him into the fold of membership.


In other words, the way it is done in a Baptist church would be acceptable in a paedobaptist community as well, but not vice versa.

Person A satisfying the requirements for baptism and membership in a Baptist church would have done so in a paedo community as well, but the reverse is not necessarily true.

At 10 August, 2007 11:24, Blogger Timothy said...

I think we are going to disagree on this one... but I need more time to get up to speed on what is going on here...

Good post, and I will be back...

At 10 August, 2007 11:26, Blogger GUNNY said...

Timothy ... THAT is the textbook definition of a TEASE!

We'll look forward to some future love ...

At 10 August, 2007 12:46, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...


Yep, you're right.

For the baptist these things are required as prerequisites for a legitimate baptism:

(1)profession of faith

For the covenantalist this is required as a prerequisite for a legitimate adult baptism:

(1)profession of faith

So Mr. Mantooth could be recieved into a covenantal church via his baptism as a baptist, since the prerequisite was met. But If Mantooth met the prereq at a covenantal church and then decided to transfer over, he would first have to be deemed regenerate. Or if Mr. Mantooth were baptised as a child prior to profession of faith, then he would have to be baptized as an adult, provided he professed the faith and was deemed regenerate.

At 10 August, 2007 14:35, Blogger Timothy said...

Hi Gunny,
Yes, it's taken a while to get up to speed on the discussion.

Several thoughts in understanding the different camps, paedo verse credo. We see it paedobaptism as entrance into the community, and the profession of faith comes later, for admittance to the table (A sacrament that seems to be very neglected in Baptist circles). So the level of membership is already different in the PCA and others.

We do recognize the need for there to be a public profession of faith. But that comes at a different place in the PCA, vs. in baptist circles.

The problem in the credo camp is that, at least as I see it, not allowing the professing paedo into membership then excludes him from the cup. That is where true communion is found, and by not allowing him to join because of convictions of baptism, he is, in a sense being excommunicated (notice the similarity in the words.)

At some point, we have to decide if the difference in views on baptism is a separating issue. Do we part fellowship over this issue? I don't think Presbyterians do, however, I do believe that Baptists do.

Are we saying then, that this is such a major doctrine that we do break fellowship over it, or do we see it as a secondary issue?

I'm not saying that we should not have strong convictions for our positions, because I do believe the credo position is wrong, but are those convictions enough to break fellowship? From my time in the SBC, I would have to say that for them, it is enough to break fellowship. This seems to me to be going too far.

BTW, Jay, I served at PCPC as an intern in 1999-2000 as well. Ask Jane B about me or Amy T.

At 11 August, 2007 04:28, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend to lean toward what Piper says, though I wouldn't quite say it amounts to ex-communication.

Yes, there are 93,000 other churches out there, but some people believe that the most important issues are the doctrines of grace. So, in most communities, that rules out 92,999 churches and one is left with choosing to go to a church that views baptism differently, or go to a church that does not believe in the doctrines of grace.

I also believe that the doctrinal distinctives of the church must be maintained. One way to do this is to not allow someone who views baptism differently to serve in any leadership capacity. Although, if the member can be trusted to not go against the views of the church, he may be trusted to teach in some capacity. For instance: Sproul moves to Garland and, unable to find a PCA church, comes to the Prov. I would like to hear him teach and I think he could be trusted to stay away from the baptism issue. Even better, he wants to join our fellowship. I say, "Welcome, glad to have you R.C." I have family members in PCA churches because they could not find a reformed baptist church. They have been allowed to become members though they may never lead. They have no agenda to subvert the teachings of the church, nor did they ask the church to change its doctrinal statement to suit them. They simply want to be a part of a body of believers that shares the same view of God's awesome election. I also have some friends that are paedos, but for a long time have gone to a baptist church. Why? Because they did not find a good PCA church. I never heard them try to subvert the teachings of the church. It is possible for someone to disagree with a particular stance of the church, yet still support the church as a whole.

I would have an issue with anyone who claims to be a believer yet refuses to be baptized since it is so clearly commanded in scripture. Yet, if someone claims to be a believer and has been baptized in the mode in which he beleives the scripture to command, I would not reject him as a brother (based solely on this). Nor do I think anyone else here would. So, if someone is a brother, and wishes to join fellowship with us, and agrees not to push a personal agenda in the fellowship, what is wrong with them joining? If sometime in the future, the person does start to cause problems, I believe that it can be handled through the process of church discipline. And remember, too, that problems can arise from anyone that we allow membership - whether it be over altar calls, baptism, the color of the carpet, or the fact that the preacher wears a bow tie. Not that we want those problems, but they usually happen in the life of a church regardless of who is allowed membership.

I think we have so much more on which we agree with our paedo brothers than we have to disagree. I don't think that it is an issue that should cause us to part fellowship.

At 11 August, 2007 11:01, Anonymous jade said...

Timothy wote:
At some point, we have to decide if the difference in views on baptism is a separating issue. Do we part fellowship over this issue? I don't think Presbyterians do, however, I do believe that Baptists do.

Are we saying then, that this is such a major doctrine that we do break fellowship over it, or do we see it as a secondary issue?

I know some Presbyterians that do believe that the Baptists are in sin because they prevent their unprofessing children from being baptized, so with all respect, I'm not sure your statement is held across the board. I also disagree with your definition of "fellowship". Heathens are considered "excommunicated", not our Presbyterian brothers and there is certainly a difference there.
The Lord's ordinance is not something to be taken lightly and hence considered as secondary doctrine. Paul has addressed these things to be practiced in the local churches and should be well defined as governed by Scirptures and required by members of that local body (clearly in our imperfection, the interpretation this practice will vary). Again, I'm not saying that we bar our Presbyterian brothers from coming to our church but if this is our conviction concerning the Lord's ordinance, we must follow our convictions. I would not expect less from a Presbyterian brother.

If the common belief of salvation is found only in Christ, and belief in the triune God is the same, holding on to the five solas, then there is fellowship. But I don't see that fellowship is broken just because our membership is not to the same church. As much as Paul at times urged us to be united, I don't think he was implying that we excluded statements concerning the Lord's ordinance in the church doctrine ( and I really don't think the PCA think of these things as secondary doctrines either because they do mention it in their doctrines). It is true that the existence of the different denominations is due to human shortcomings to fully come to a complete understanding of the Scriptures. Honestly I don't think we'd reach that until our beloved Groom appears before us and we are made perfect. In the mean time we are in this wretched body, but it doesn't mean that we don't continue reforming to His truth and upholding to the convictions (the Lord has given us) of that truth, even in as much as we may vary on what those convictions are.

Gunny wrote:
Jade, Bethelehem Baptist ultimately decided against making the change. But you raise a good question. Some might even say it would cease to be a Baptist church at that point. I'm not sure I would, but certainly some would. Might that signficant of a change necessitate a re-affirmation of membership? Perhaps to some it would.
I think it would. If anything in the doctrine of the church is modified, it only makes sense that all members would need to reconfirm their agreement to the modified doctrines.

At 11 August, 2007 13:18, Blogger Rev. said...

I think what the Pipe is trying to say to all his fellow Christians is this, "We need you. Heck, I need you. I'm a mess without you. I miss you so darn much. I miss being with you, I miss being near you. I miss your laugh. I miss your scent; I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think we should get a church building together."

The Baptist church/pastor holding the line on the baptism issue (no membership w/o believer's immersion) is being consistent. However, after struggling through this very issue over the last two years, I'm inclined to side with Piper's stance.

While we still have freedom in this nation we will probably debate the topic. But what happens if (when) the Church is persecuted? Will we hold out and have underground Baptist churches? What if the underground Church consists of those from various denominational backgrounds? What if the leadership consists of the same?

As a Baptist, would you permit Charles Stanley to join your church while denying membership to Jonathan Edwards (if he were still alive)? Or, to put a real-life spin on it (and the matter with which Piper has struggled), would you grant membership to an individual from your own Baptist denomination - e.g., Greg Boyd - while denying it to one from a paedobaptistic group - e.g., Sinclair Ferguson?

For those who are truly Reformed Baptists, the only answer can be: "We'd deny Stanley/Boyd for other reasons and request Edwards/Ferguson to submit to believer's baptism." But then, to remain consistent, we must deny these men communion if they worship with us. What does that imply about our doctrine of redemption? Of our ecclesiology? Is not forbidding communion to those who profess the name of Christ a declaration that we are not "in communion" with them? That they are out of fellowship with us? That they are not a part of the Body of Christ?

If we are willing to take that stance, we may need to rethink which conferences/seminaries we attend, which books we read, etc.

At 11 August, 2007 13:33, Blogger Timothy said...

Hi Jade,
Excellent comments, and yes, I would say that a Baptist is in sin because of his position on baptism, but I also recognize that Baptist would say I'm in sin because of my position. Someone is wrong when it comes to this major doctrine, and when either one side or the other comes to the conclusion that they are wrong, repentance is necessary.

That being said, what I mean by a secondary doctrine is that being wrong on these issues doesn't lead to damnation, like say the Deity of Christ, or the doctrine of justification.

More later... sorry, phone calls and sermons...

At 11 August, 2007 22:33, Anonymous Jade said...

Rev wrote:
As a Baptist, would you permit Charles Stanley to join your church while denying membership to Jonathan Edwards (if he were still alive)?

Rev, this wouldn't be a problem because neither of them would agree to our church doctrine (Stanley would probably have a problem with the 5 points and Edwards would have a problem with our beliefs concerning baptism) and would not become a member by their own choice. Any conscientous Christian is not going to become a member of a church that has a set of doctrines he/she won't agree to. Had I been in the middle of a baptist barren land and there was only one sound Presbyterian church, I would attend that church. But would I become a member of that church? Probably not. Would it be because they band me? No, because I cannot consciously embrace all those doctrines.

Timothy wrote:
Excellent comments, and yes, I would say that a Baptist is in sin because of his position on baptism, but I also recognize that Baptist would say I'm in sin because of my position.

Hi Timothy, let me ask you a question. If you knowingly know a person seeking membership in your church is in sin...would you grant him/her membership?

At 13 August, 2007 04:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can anyone say the other camp is in sin because of their belief without saying that the person is therefore lost? If the opposing view is sin, then it follows that anyone making a conscious determination to continue in that sin, without repenting or even recognizing it as sin, but rather glorying in that sin must be unregenerate.

I don't think you can call the opposing view sin, yet say that the person living in that sin is a genuine believer. Choosing one view over the other is not a lapse into sin such as lusting after a bikini clad woman on a billboard (which any believer may do). Rather, it is like a man making a determination to move in with a woman to whom he is not married and choosing to continue that relationship and telling others that it is righteous to do so.

One who studies the Bible and arrives at a particular view of baptism and then embraces that view and teaches others to do the same is not in the same situation as one who gives into the temptation of lust. If the opposing view is sin, it is the same as the person living in adultery, refusing to change, and teaching that it is righteous to do so.

So, does that mean that many heroes of the faith are actually unregenerate sinners? If we accept that there are and have been great Godly men who hold to the view which we reject, we must then say that their view is NOT sin or else they were not and are not Godly men.

I believe that James Montgomery Boice is right now enjoying the sweet presence of our Savior in the throne room of God. I disagree with his view of baptism while he was alive here (although I know he holds the correct view now), but he would not be enjoying eternal bliss if he had been living a lifestyle of sin, and in fact encouraging others to participate in the same sin, while he was yet alive on this earth. And I believe that Charles Spurgeon is joining in praise to God along with Boice in the presence of God.

Neither the paedo, nor the credo is sinning. Only one who refuses outright to be baptized is sinning.

Am I wrong?

At 13 August, 2007 08:42, Blogger Rev. said...

That's why I *also* stated, "For those who are truly Reformed Baptists, the only answer can be: 'We'd deny Stanley/Boyd for other reasons and request Edwards/Ferguson to submit to believer's baptism.'"

It is also the reason I raise this point, "But then, to remain consistent, we must deny these men communion if they worship with us. What does that imply about our doctrine of redemption? Of our ecclesiology? Is not forbidding communion to those who profess the name of Christ a declaration that we are not 'in communion' with them? That they are out of fellowship with us? That they are not a part of the Body of Christ?"

At 15 August, 2007 11:57, Blogger Timothy said...

Hi Jade,
By knowingly sinning, do you mean, they hold to the Baptistic position, while we hold to a paedo baptism? That would not be sin in my book. What would be sin is for the one convinced that a credo baptist position is correct and the only way before God, to have his children baptized as infants.

He could join our church, not having to be rebaptized since we recognize all those who have a Trinitarian baptism into our fellowship.

Where he will have a problem, is later on when his grown children need to be baptized because they believe, and I opt to sprinkle, instead of dunking. But that is an entirely different issue.

At 17 August, 2007 12:18, Blogger GUNNY said...

According to Mark Dever, paedobaptists are impenitent sinners.
Jesus clearly commanded baptism and to disobey this command is sin [whether intentional or not]. To continue in such an unbaptized state is unrepentant sin [whether intentional or not].

John Piper would disagree, saying that they are in error, but are convinced they are right.
On almost every disagreement that Christians have about what should be believed and what should be done, someone is living in "unrepentant sin”—that is, they are not doing what they ought to do and they are not confessing it as sin.... The question is: what do we do with all these Christians who can't agree on what ought to be done and therefore do the wrong things and don’t confess it as sin? I argue that every Christian has always had a category of behaviors and a category of attitudes about behaviors that they believe are not what God wants us to do, but do not consign a person who does not believe the same to the category of church discipline. We agree to disagree in the faith, because we agree that the other person is earnestly seeking for the light of God and that the nature of the sin is not such that it calls their faith into question or threatens their soul or undermines the gospel. Admittedly this is muddy, but it seems inevitable (Phil. 3:15)."

At 21 August, 2007 16:21, Blogger GUNNY said...

Sam Storms questions how "together" for the Gospel folks can be if they exclude each other from the Lord's table.

(HT Abraham at Desiring God Blog)

"Let me be clear on one thing. I am a credo-baptist, not a paedo-baptist. That is to say, I believe that only those who believe in Jesus Christ should receive the ordinance of water baptism.... Ligon Duncan, on the other hand, is a Presbyterian paedo-baptist. Because of this, both Mark Dever and Al Mohler made it clear that if Duncan were in attendance at either of their churches they would not permit him to partake of the elements of the Lord's Supper....

This may be offensive to some, but the claim to be "Together for the Gospel" rings a bit hollow to me when some would decline to fellowship with others around the Lord's Table because of their disagreement on the proper recipients of baptism."

At 22 August, 2007 05:42, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dever calls it unrepentant sin, so I guess he consigns all those who practice paedobaptism to hell?

I agree with Piper's statement.

And a big "AMEN" to Sam Storms.

Not to say baptism is unimportant, but I have many brothers in Christ (and being brothers, they can not be living in unrepentant sin) that are paedo. They are welcome to partake of the Lord's supper with me anytime.

At 23 August, 2007 00:01, Anonymous bobo said...

There is some good stuff up in this piece, but none of it does much for my encouragement or the edification of the church. I really do see both sides, but have come down on the side that understands

I think my boy Piper is correect to relegate the debate to an affront to the gospel when we know (as well as anyone can 'know') that a godly man is a bro. and yet would not have table fellowship with him, or deny him membership into our local body (which should represent to the best of our frail abilities the universal and invisible church). If he's in The Church, we should let him be in the church. I honestly don't think the earliest fathers had all of these nuances figured out, what dealing with racism, daily death, and heresy running rampant. It seems to have been a messy and gloriously rich experience in the life of the early church, why can we not have that now. What happened to being convinced in your own mind and living in community with people who discoursed you into deeper faith and fellowship, to have the mind of Christ. Oh yea, that was all messay and organic, and not neat enough to fit our churches with pregressive revelation. We'll have none of that discomfort and pushing to THINK for the sake of peace and harmony.

I don't know how to connect the dots that Grudem so clearly lays out, and I'm not one to argue with Dever, or Ferguson, or Mohler, of Duncan, I just know it is a damn shame that instead of working together for gospel so much ink has been spilt in defense of an unclear system.

I'm sleepy.


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