I Guess Crossway Will Not Be Publishing the Collected Works of John Murray Soon

From the 1966 OPC report on whether or not to admit Baptists to church membership (from our Mid-West correspondent):

The committee considers, however, that to admit to communicant membership those who “refuse” to present their children for baptism would constitute a weakening of the witness the church bears to the ordinance of infant baptism as one of divine warrant, authority, and obligation. Of greater weight is the fact that infant baptism is the way in which God continues to remind and assure us of that which belongs to the administration of his redemptive, covenantal purpose. The defect of the person not persuaded of this aspect of God’s revealed counsel is not concerned with what is peripheral but with what is basic in the Christian institution. And the person who resolutely refuses to present his or her children for baptism is rejecting the covenant promise and grace which God has certified to his people from Abraham’s day till now. It is this perspective that lends gravity to the offense. It is this estimate of baptism that underlies the statement of our subordinate standards when the Confession says that it is “a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance” (XXVIII, v) and the Directory for Worship that the children of the faithful “are holy in Christ, and as members of his church ought to be baptized” (IV, B, 4). It cannot be denied that the person refusing baptism for his children is delinquent in doctrine. It is the obligation of the session (in the case envisioned in this study) to apprise him of this. It is scarcely compatible with honesty, therefore, for such a person to answer in the affirmative such a question or any other form of question of similar purport as must be asked of those being received into communicant membership, namely, “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?” (ibid., V, 5, 4).

In support and confirmation of the foregoing position the following additional considerations are offered.

1. God has revealed his great displeasure with those who refuse or neglect the administration of the sign of the covenant (Gen. 17:14; Exod. 4:24-26).

2. To refuse the covenant sign to the children of believers is to deny God’s covenant claim upon them, and thus to withhold from him those who are rightfully his. Such denial provokes him to anger (Exod. 4:22-26; Mark 10:13, 14).

3. The riches of God’s grace are most clearly seen in his covenant mercies, and to deny baptism to the children of the church prevents the grace of God from being seen in all its richness and manifestly detracts from its fullness. This cannot help but weaken the sense of gratitude in both parents and children and consequently rob God of the praise and thanksgiving that are due to him.

4. Those professing parents who refuse to present their children for baptism thereby deny their solemn obligation to keep God’s covenant by raising their children in the knowledge and fear of the Lord, and deprive their children as well as themselves of the comfort of God’s covenant promise.

5.Professing parents who refuse to present their children for baptism withhold from the church of Christ the holy seed which God in his goodness has provided for it, and consequently deprive their children of the nurture and discipline which the body of Christ imparts to its members.

In answer to the objection that the scriptural evidence for the ordinance of infant baptism is not of such clarity as to command our obedience, it may be conceded that there is no express command in Scripture to baptize infants. Nevertheless, what by good and necessary inference can be deduced from Scripture is to be received as authoritative (Confession of Faith I, vi) and the scriptural evidence for infant baptism clearly falls within this category. It may be further objected that in order to establish this doctrine such a closely reasoned and complicated process of inference and deduction is demanded that it is not reasonable to require those to conform to this ordinance who are unable to exert such powers of logic. In answer to this objection, it must be affirmed that the doctrine of the covenant of grace is all-pervasive in Scripture and that it takes no great powers of reasoning to find the rightful place of the children of believers within its fold.

That throws an ecclesial wrench into the Gospel allies’ paraecclesial machine.

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270 thoughts on “I Guess Crossway Will Not Be Publishing the Collected Works of John Murray Soon

  1. DGH, I don’t care any more for these alliances than you do, but every single presby I know belongs to a denomination that, at least in practice, leaves it up to the parents as to whether or not to present their little vipers for Baptism. (I don’ t know any members of the OPC, though there is an OPC that is a long par 5 from where I live, but I know folks who go to most other presbyterian denominations ) Why should the OPC’s position be persuasive to the Coalition crowd? Doesn’t seem like a speck of sand, much less a wrench.

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  2. AB, reading to the end of your first link, it seems that the Murray committee punted the issue back to the Session.

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  3. We were members of first the PCA, and then the OPC, before my husband was convinced of paedo-baptism. Although, it wasn’t long after joining the OPC, and thanks to our pastor’s diligence, that my husband came around to the truth. Our oldest 3 were baptized on the same day, at 1, 3 and 5 years old. Not so sure I’m convinced we should have been members while refusing to baptize our children.

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  4. There’s a break in the report where it says “The committee also incorporates in its report the following qualifying considerations of one of its members.” The position above that break is firmly against creating Bapterians.

    The motion that passed was “the admission to membership of those who cannot in good conscience present their children for baptism is a matter for judgment by sessions.” This could be seen as a punt but it might better be seen as recognizing another jurisdiction within Presbyterianism. In other words, it may be that the General Assembly did not want not tie the hands of local Sessions on decisions within their jurisdiction. And this might have been prudent given the variety of cases that could come before a Session. For example, the case of a single Baptist with no children might be treated differently than a family.

    I don’t have the date close at hand but the Presbyterian church said the same thing – it is up to sessions – back in the mid-1800s.

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  5. “That throws an ecclesial wrench into the Gospel allies’ paraecclesial machine.”

    Actually, and thankfully, the alleged “wrench” (of lack of parental commitment to infant baptism) does NOT stop the TGC machine. Nor should it.

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  6. DGH, OPC opinions are binding on PCA ministers? I get that it seems strange (or worse) for paedo-Baptists to consort with those who believe otherwise, but my point is that the strict line Murray took seems to be honored more in the breach than in the observance in every other Presbyterian congregation of which I have personal knowledge. Maybe that is a Southern thing. But heck, if I read things right, the PCA would sooner abolish infant Baptism completely than bring Keller in line.

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  7. different Dan, I don’t disagree about the reality of our churches. But that doesn’t make it right or agreeable.

    Plus, the allies seem to like Murray on Scripture, not so much on baptism. And this is all it takes to refute infant baptism:

    J

    ohn Sr. is a devout believer, John Jr. has never professed faith in Christ, and John III is one week old. Should John III be considered a member of the church and a proper candidate for Christian baptism? With a few exceptions, such as the Half-Way Covenant, this is not the historic practice of Reformed paedobaptist churches. But why not?

    Imagine another example: someone baptized as an infant grows up to join a Baptist church and the Baptists require re-baptism. Even if that infant were baptized by Tim Keller? The temerity.

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  8. Prior to the OPC report the debate in the Presbyterian Guardian was between one minister who would disallow Baptists and another who would allow them to join *under discipline.*

    On which side is TKNY?

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  9. Petros, kind of like how thankfully CBs don’t treat their covenant children the way their theology implies, i.e. like little pagans. They actually behave like PBs.

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  10. MG, fair point. It may well be that the issue just doesn’t present itself as relevant to a particular case of a single candidate (so why press it?). But what if it does? What if for whatever reason it comes to the Session’s attention that our single friend opposes what we confess as essential?

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  11. Do OPC and PCA churches allow people to remain members despite having chosen to refuse to their children the sacrament of baptism? I’m not aware of any PCUSA church that permits that.

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  12. Z, I was afraid I was going to be quickly outflanked on this one and end up being the Bapterian sympathizer. Sigh. But I do think the analysis is different.

    The OPC is said to require a mere credible profession of its members rather than a system subscription. Those who would welcome Bapterians put highlighter all over this. There are numerous departures from the WCF that we allow of members, they say, why is paedobaptism any different?

    It’s different because it involves not only belief but action. That action is excluding from the church those who rightfully belong in the church and denying children the one sacrament designed for them. Accordingly it is incumbent upon a session to deal with what the WCF describes as the “very great” sin of neglecting baptism.

    Now take the 80 year-old Baptist wishing to join. With no baptizable children there is no action to be disciplined but only a theory about what he would do if he had baptizable children.It’s much more like the various departures from the WCF that are allowed under the credible profession standard.

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  13. Bobby, you know where to look:

    http://opc.org/qa.html?question_id=515
    Question and Answer
    May people join the OPC and not baptize their children?

    Question:

    Genesis 17:14 says, “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.” Why do Reformed churches (PCA, OPC, etc.) allow people to become members who will not baptize their children? Based on this passage and similar, i.e., where Moses delays in circumcising his son, it seems like this is a very serious issue.

    Answer:

    You are not the first person to ask your question or point out the seriousness of the matter! In fact, there was a paper presented to the OPC’s General Assembly which dealt with this question: Refusing to Present Children for Baptism. I commend that study to you for the majority of the report presents strongly the case for excluding those who are unwilling to baptize their children. Yet most OP (I can’t speak for the PCA) churches will have members for do not believe in infant baptism. Why is this?

    While GA reports do not have binding status on the church, for we are bound by the Word of God and our confessional standards, they do reflect the careful thinking of the church. In this case, the men on the study committee were John Murray, long-time professor of theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and Charles Ellis and Laurence Vail, two very experienced and mature pastors. If you download the report and read it you’ll see that the OPC has faced this issue head on.

    Here are a few things to consider:

    1) The OPC is a confessional church and its church officers must receive and adopt the Westminster Standards as their own (FG XXV.6.a.(2)). No one who rejects the view of covenant baptism explicitly stated in the WCF 28.4 can serve as an ordained officer in the OPC. Therefore, a Reformed Baptist could not serve in ordained office, but can they, in good conscience, take the membership vows? Here are the vows:

    (1) Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
    (2) Do you believe in one living and true God, in whom eternally there are three distinct persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—who are the same in being and equal in power and glory, and that Jesus Christ is God the Son, come in the flesh?
    (3) Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, that you repent of your sin, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
    (4) Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord, and do you promise that, in reliance on the grace of God, you will serve him with all that is in you, forsake the world, resist the devil, put to death your sinful deeds and desires, and lead a godly life?
    (5) Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church’s worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?
    In framing these questions, the OPC has deliberately kept the question of membership in the visible church where it needs to be, on one’s profession of faith in Christ. The last question (5), however, gives the session of a church the right to raise the refusal to baptize one’s children with those who present themselves for membership. In other words, talking about infant baptism is “fair game” both prior to an interview for church membership, or afterwards. This dovetails with the General Assembly’s response to the report I’ve cited: “On motion the General Assembly declared that the admission to membership of those who cannot in good conscience present their children for baptism is a matter for judgment by sessions.” The session can pursue this question.

    2) The whole life of the church is under the guidance and direction of the session of a church (FG XIII.7). A session is charged with maintaining the doctrinal integrity of the church and that doctrine character is clearly set out in the Westminster Standards. This should mean no one is allowed to teach or propagate any doctrine which is contrary to the standards of the church, and that would certainly include teaching a view of baptism opposed to what we believe is the biblical, i.e., covenantal, view of the baptism of children. But what of someone simply being a member of the church?

    3) What the GA report suggests is that an influx of people who reject a covenantal view of children can have the effect of weakening a church’s testimony as being Reformed, and this is a particular concern because many Reformed Baptists, who agree with much of what the OPC stands for, are finding a home in the OPC. They believe in Presbyterianism and the doctrines of grace, yet their commitment to a non-covenantal view of baptism is there. The questions then become 1. Are they willing to be taught? 2. Do they agree not to propagate their non-confessional views? 3. Can they live in peace in a congregation that does, in fact, baptize infants? 4. Do they recognize that they cannot be considered for church office as long as they hold their non-confessional views? 5. Are they, in good conscience, able to commit to pray for the child who is baptized and his or her parents as our Directory for Public Worship describes?

    (8) The Covenant Commitment of the Congregation
    It is appropriate that the minister exhort the congregation, in these or like words: As [name] is baptized into Christ and becomes a member of his visible church, the whole congregation is obligated to love (him/her) and receive (him/her) as a member of the body of Christ. For “we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body,” and therefore are members of one another. Christ claims this little child as his own and calls you to receive (him/her) in love and commitment. Therefore, you ought to commit yourself before God to assist [name of child] and (his/her) parents in (his/her) Christian nurture by godly example, prayer, and encouragement in our most precious faith.
    The GA report discusses these things in more detail, but the wisdom of the General Assembly was rightly displayed as it left the matter to the session. The OPC (and the PCA) are churches where the maintenance of the confessional standards rests with the ordained officers. Membership in the visible church, as one pastor put, must be open as wide as the gates of heaven. The membership questions mirror that understanding, and that means that those who profess the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to His Word should be welcomed. Then the elders must do their job of knowing, truly knowing, those whom they are receiving as members and seeking to teach them.

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  14. DGH, I don’t follow the doings of TGC enough to have been aware of their liking for Murray. As a Baptist, my church would not give anyone sprinkled by Tim Keller, infant or otherwise, a pass if they wanted to be full members. We would allow them to take the Lord’s Supper and sing in the choir, but not serve as Deacons or vote on church business, particularly the budget ( which is really how we run the place.). I seem to recall that Piper’s congregation voted against his request to allow those who had only been Baptized as infants into full membership. We do have a young skinny jeans wearing assistant Pastor who favorably mentioned TKNY in a sermon a few months ago, so my guard is up.

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  15. Honest questions:

    1. Can someone explain to me how unregenerate persons can be “members of [Christ’s] church and part of “the body of Christ”?

    2. If they persist in unbelief at what point would they no longer qualify as those former? Is it an “age of accountability thing”?

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  16. @Bobby,
    “Do OPC and PCA churches allow people to remain members despite having chosen to refuse to their children the sacrament of baptism? I’m not aware of any PCUSA church that permits that.”

    That’s really surprising. As far back as 1918 First Presbyterian Church NYC had no problem hiring a certain baptist as their pastor. The PCUSA is also in full communion with the UCC (who has merged clergy with the credo-baptist DoC). It is odd that the PCUSA is OK with credo-baptist pastors but not members who want their kids baptized after their profession.

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  17. @ d4v34x: 1. Can someone explain to me how unregenerate persons can be “members of [Christ’s] church and part of “the body of Christ”?

    In much the same way that Judas Iscariot could be one of Christ’s apostles. Or that Esau could receive the sign of circumcision and be counted as one of Isaac’s children.

    Until the point of repudiating the covenant, they are visibly counted as a member of Christ’s church and are presumed to be elect (not necessarily regenerate) until such time as they show evidence otherwise.

    One of the common points of confusion (which may or may not apply to you) is to assume that we know, based on profession of faith, whether or not someone is regenerate. But that latter judgment is known only to God. Once we’re clear on that point, then it becomes equally clear that there are all sorts of unregenerate people, even in Baptist churches, who are “part of the church of God.”

    The reason I mention Judas, though he is obviously exceptional, is that Christ in John 15 speaks in this way:

    Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

    And of course, the branch that has just left Jesus and failed to abide was Judas in chap 13.

    Assuming that you agree that salvation cannot be lost, how then are we to understand branches “in Christ” that “do not abide”? I would argue that a visible and invisible distinction provides the perfect framework for understanding. Branches (such as Judas) who are visibly in Christ, and yet do not abide, demonstrate that they do not in fact belong to Christ and are broken off. Until such time as they do, they are counted as being in Christ.

    Does that answer the question?

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  18. MG, but Christology remains in the theoretical with no practical outworking. What if it became known that our friend held to something decidedly more Arian than Nicean? I assume membership would be in jeopardy–can a credible profession include such a doctrine? So this raises the question of what is essential and what are the implications of that. Is baptism essential doctrine, and can a credible profession include its denial anymore than it can include a Christological error?

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  19. Z, the shorthand is “credible profession” but, really, its about whether the membership vows can be taken in integrity. They are:
    Membership Vows

    1) Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
    2) Do you believe in one living and true God, in whom eternally there are three distinct persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – who are the same in being and equal in power and glory, and that Jesus Christ is God the Son, come in the flesh?
    3) Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, that you repent of your sin, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
    4) Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord, and do you promise that, in reliance on the grace of God, you will serve him with all that is in you, forsake the world, resist the devil, put to death your sinful deeds and desires, and lead a godly life?
    5) Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church’s worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?

    So there’s some Christology there and even some implied ecclesiology, among other things.

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  20. MG I had EC complain about vow #4, like it’s some license for the elder to be a tyrant with the flock.

    I hope EC stops his little crusade soon. It’s getting old.

    Peace.

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  21. JC,

    The baptists in my life worry about the dilutive effect of making members in our churches who may not be Xtian. But there’s the communicate/non communicate distinction in membership.

    God’s Word indicates the children of believers are members of the church, full stop.

    Great comment. I think it does answer the question.
    Thanks.

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  22. Jeff,

    Yes, thanks. As I lay in my bed last night thinking about this, I wondered if there would be some distinction between apparent and actual members. Reminding me of the term visible and pointing to John 15 was quite helpful.

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  23. Muddy: he motion that passed was “the admission to membership of those who cannot in good conscience present their children for baptism is a matter for judgment by sessions.” This could be seen as a punt but it might better be seen as recognizing another jurisdiction within Presbyterianism. In other words, it may be that the General Assembly did not want not tie the hands of local Sessions on decisions within their jurisdiction. And this might have been prudent given the variety of cases that could come before a Session. For example, the case of a single Baptist with no children might be treated differently than a family.

    Limited government… imagine that!

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  24. AB, #4 is pretty basic Christian stuff. I could see someone misunderstanding “forsake the world” but properly understood it’s not that much different than “resist the devil.” The opposite of #4 is what? “I will be indifferent to sin?”

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  25. CW, I’m surprised that guy could even count to 14. He says he’s going to do his first post in forever and it’s going to include the OPC report above. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

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  26. Infrequent posting is for the birds. What you want is consistent, relentless mediocrity with tons of lists and issues du jour. Lower expectations. Like Joe Carter and the TGC mothership.

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  27. MG, right, and I’m all for simple professions among the laity generally (here’s where two kinds of membership does make sense to me–laity ought not be expected to navigate theological complexities the way officers are). But the point of my question has to do with that particular situation in which it comes to the attention of the session that an essential doctrine is opposed. Should that opposition enjoy the privilege of membership?

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  28. Z, doesn’t “essential doctrine” beg the question?

    In practice, most churches have membership classes or some kind of pre-membership instruction. This tends to be effective in rooting out a lot of errors. Then there is opportunity to instruct members as deficiencies are noted. Also, in reality, not many people join a church with which they have fundamental disagreement.

    I know you love hypotheticals, but they might be helpful here.

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  29. MG, but instances of making Baptists members is widespread in American Presbyterian churches and is what’s actually raising the questions (different from begging). So, yes, in reality there are things like membership classes that give opportunity to root out errors, etc. Yet the aforementioned instances seem to persist. The usual response I hear is that most Baptists eventually come to a PB view after being made members anyway (so relax, pal). This speaks well of teaching ability, but it still leaves questions of propriety. After all, if your experience is that you get most to reform their doctrine and practice then why not hold off membership until that happens?

    I don’t know about question begging, but it does seem to raise questions of basic and essential doctrine and what a credible profession should confess and practice.

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  30. Z, you’re mostly preaching to the choir. To me, bringing a Baptist family into a Presbyterian church undermines the peace and unity of the church. It also sends the clear message that it’s just not a big deal one way or another. Given how counter cultural Presbyterianism is anyway, why would anyone want to make it harder to get members to appreciate Presbyterianism? Maybe it’s the principal of not shutting out Christians but it could also just be the appeal of putting more fannies in the pews.

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  31. Mud, many PCA churches have perfected techniques for making baptists feel at home — I mean, they preach, pray, program, and sing in ways indistinguishable from many of the baptist churches from which the majority of their members come. And big platforms like TGC only hasten the great Revangelical leveling tendency.

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  32. MG, we’re on the same page with the Baptist family, but the recent line of conversation involves the Baptist individual, which is good for turning up the soil on other interesting questions, including the why-make-it-harder point. And to those who would press it, some might turn to the current socio-political debate over marriage and wonder if those who would relax doctrinal standards pursuant to membership would do the same over there (since my anecdotal sense is that they tend to be one and the same, ahem): Look, marriage is already on the rocks, so why not let some in who may have the basics wrong but still understand what monogamy and longevity mean? But if standards matter, don’t they matter in both religious and temporal life?

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  33. I’m also reminded of the story I heard about a formerly-influential, formerly-large PCA church (which has produced a few big name figures in evangelical media) which allows or allowed optional (dry) baby dedications for the unconvinced, unwashed babdists.

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  34. I also heard (in person) a “conservative” PCUSA minister say that members could baptize their spawn now or later, whenever, and that First Baptist across the street allowed him the use of the baptistery for obviously-private dunkings for those who so desired. This was about 25 years ago.

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  35. my wife (OPC), at the wedding shower at the baptist church i grew up in, was in the middle of a circle

    playing some dumb women’s game they do at wedding showers

    and the roof sprung a leak, and she got wet.

    i kid you not, the joke was, “she’s now re-baptized: one of us”

    little did they know..

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  36. Z, I’m looking at the issue as one bound by our standards whereas you have no such constraint. The 80 year old Baptist who doesn’t go around stirring the pot could affirm our vows and, in terms of possible discipline, doesn’t have much affect on the peace and unity of the church.

    CW, in other words they have two kinds of memberships. They have proactively established a lack of unity – different standards for different members. Here’s an idea: maybe they should just have two different churches.

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  37. MG, I can appreciate that. But if we wonder where bapterianism comes from, seems to me it might begin with giving Presbyterian membership to those we know full well are Baptists–the metamessage is that it doesn’t matter in the final analysis.

    Why is parachurch TGC such a problem in this regard when actual churches set precedent?

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  38. Re: the 4th vow.

    1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

    Pretty simple. I mean, yes, one might have to do a word search on the different uses of “world” but it’s not difficult.

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  39. Muddy,

    let’s talk about this soon, here on oldlife.

    Erik (bless his heart) blocks and deletes much of my words to him out there.

    I think this should cool down for a couple days, if not weeks. I hear what he’s saying. But I think he’s been mininformed and could use someone to explain it to him (doesn’t have to be me).

    Thanks Mud, grace and peace.

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  40. Posting for Erik’s sake.

    The whole idea about the membership vows are fascinating.

    There’s a clause that I actually did not recite when I joined (i know exactly WHAT THE WORDS ARE that I did not say, that everyone else did say).

    This was something that has a long history with the church i joined when i was 20 years old.

    so i get Erik’s little kerfuffle here, and i want to explain to him some things that I have learned in my history over the issue of membership vows.

    there’s no reason it has to be today or soon.

    again, he’s misinformed. and could use a friend to come along side him.

    that’s all.

    Next.

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  41. Z, in my approach it very much does matter – it matters when children are being deprived of baptism. If you want to make your point then fine but this isn’t the droid you’re looking for.

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  42. @ AB

    “again, he’s misinformed, and could use a friend to come along side him.”

    YES. A friend to come along side him. If I were on your coast, I would bring you a pot of jam or homemade pie or something today.

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  43. CW, amen.

    I think Darryl’s deleting EC’s trackbacks for that very reason.

    I have a lot of opinions that I share with no one. Usualy this kind of thing is resolved via phone call.

    I’m done.

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  44. AB – You took an exception to a clause in one of your membership vows? Your session knew about this and were fine with it?

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  45. It’s not right.

    Do you really have that big of a problem with me desiring to save the reputation of my fellow OPCers from harm?

    I am not nefarious. Please stop coming after me and talk to Darryl if you want more info.

    I said I could talk about vow#4 with Muddy. The exact words were “abhor myself.” I did not technically abhor myself via my vow, but i have recited that vow many times since.

    now please stop this interrogation. It’s not your fault, but if you want more, i am public and available, that’s all i wish to say now.

    take care, and don’t watch trashy shows. good grief, man.

    grace and peace.

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  46. AB – Your’re silly. Whose reputations are endangered? This is a blog. Nothing of real importance (for good or bad) really happens here. No need to play the victim either. You brought something up about your membership vows I thought was odd, so I asked. What’s wrong with that? Now I know it’s a sensitive topic so I’ll back off. But have you heard of TMI?

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  47. Look everyone, Machen said:

    Christian religion flourishes not in the darkness but in the light. Intellectual slothfulness is but a quack remedy for unbelief; the true remedy is consecration of intellectual powers to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    source

    The OPC for this reason I believe is extremely healthy (as opposed to PCA) because our deliberations are in public. I have nothing to hide.

    The fact is, I don’t know why my former church did not want me to abhor myself. I can say flat out I certainly do – I have said that vow many times, as well as vow#4.

    So fine – get all this out in the open. But I am ignorant. And why should I stir s**t up needlessly?

    Michael, does that help? Why do you seem to interact with me and hardly anyone else? I think you should find better things to do than post after me and try to get me to respond. Sure, it’s working. But maybe if you are in the northern CA region, you can come visit us at church. I never watched your sci fi show you told me to watch, i’m working on “the roosevelts” by ken burns, it’s at my blog if you want more info about me.

    who’s next?

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  48. Michael, my only point in bringing it up is that I have personal history, have talked with elders I trust on the matter, so it’s nothing new (have you read ecclesiastes, nothing new under the sun?).

    This all started because Erik stirred s**t up about potential members who are SSM legally married, would the OPC require them to divorce/annul to become a member.

    Now, as interesting as that little mind game was, I believe it did more harm than good. More heat than light. I don’t want that to keep repeating itself.

    We are a very proper denomination. Things are done in a deliberate and slow way, for a reason.

    so far, nothing in these silly (yes, michael, it’s all very silly, ding ding) blogs rises to the level of what i saw in our presbytery (listen all about it here (http://reformedforum.org/ctc337/)).

    now, i could go on, or we could get back to the baptism question. i don’t see why everyone is so agitated. we need erik charter the goofy youtube posting keeping things light guy. not the guy who was going after Rev. Dr. Bordow for no reason. It’s not right, I have no shame in saying Erik’s actions were out of line. Darryl knows what’s he’s doing.

    I coudl go on..

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  49. It’s really this simple folks.

    If Erik Charter believes the OPC has an error in her constitution, he can go about the legal means to make a change.

    He’s not doing that, he’s blogging on us and on how we run things.

    Like Michael said, this is silly. All of it is. And now Erik has blogged on me (again..sigh) about how I am giving him grief, and how everyone is still friendly with him (as though Erik and I are at war with one another or something, I have no idea what is motivating Erik right now).

    This brings us all back to my experience in the opc from 2004 until 2009 when the general assembly committee on creation matters visited our presbytery and helped our presbytery think through the weighty matters of the creation days of genesis.

    there was a proposal for the OPC to put before the presbyeries the question of hte lenght of creation days, by Dr. George Knight III, which almost no one in the February 2009 conference agreed with.

    I’m telling you, this is all old stuff, all been done, and I wish Erik would stop doing trackbacks to oldlife. if he wants, he can contact me directly, but instead, blocks me, and keeps playing geraldo rivera with darryl and those who comment here (Granted, we talka bout him, but he’s talking about us – hello!!).

    at least per erik there’s been a renaissance.

    doesn’t he get that he can still post here?

    he vowed to someone he would pay $1000 if he posted another comment.

    im sorry, but a trackback in a comment per the “recent comments” at the top of the pay.

    so erik, pay up, or get in line with everyone else. everyone likes you. even cw. can’t we all just get along?

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  50. Listen up. Everyone stop spinning out in public. You’re bothering me. Go drink or smoke or walk or veg out in front of the tube. But have the decency to only afflict yourselves.

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  51. MG, no offense is intended. But I’m not sure why you keep invoking the issue of children–that one is settled between us and we agree. I have in mind the 80 year old example. But I’ve made my point, so…

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  52. The reason Presbyterians have allowed baptists into membership is her view of the church administering the kingdom of God. If the kingdom of God includes those whose doctrine is off on certain points but have a credible profession of faith, then they should not be excluded from membership in God’s church/kingdom. Peter did not understand election before his profession was accepted (Matt. 16), the Corinthians held many doctrinal errors, those being added to the church daily after hearing the gospel (Acts 2:47) needed much time to understand doctrine more fully. Unless you can demonstrate from Scripture that those who in good conscience hold off the baptism of their children because of a weak understanding of the relationship between the Old and New covenants should not be considered Christian, then no obstacle should be put in their path that keeps them from God’s Table. See below

    The Creed of Presbyterians, Volume 788, Issue 10 By Egbert Watson Smith (1901)

    The catholicity of the Presbyterian Church appears in her one condition of church membership. She demands nothing whatever for admission to her fold except a confession, uncontradicted by the life, of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The applicant is not asked to subscribe to our Standards or assent to our theology. He is not required to be a Calvinist, but only to be a Christian. He is not examined as to his orthodoxy, but only as to his ” faith in and obedience unto Christ.’ He may have imperfect notions about the Trinity and the Atonement; he may question infant baptism, election, and final perseverance; but if he trusts and obeys Christ as his personal Saviour and Lord, the door of the Presbyterian Church is open to him, and all the privileges of her communion are his. When churches prescribe conditions of membership other than the simple conditions of salvation, they are guilty of the unscriptural incongruity of making it harder to get into the Church than into Heaven. To such ecclesiastical tyranny and exclusiveness the Presbyterian Church stands in utter contrast. Her Standards declare that as simple faith in Christ makes us members of God’s family, so those who have made a profession of faith in Christ are entitled to all the rights and privileges of the Church. Thus with a broad and beautiful catholicity the gates of our Presbyterian Zion are flung wide as the gates of Heaven for all the children of God.

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  53. Todd, what do you do with the WCF saying it is a great sin to neglect baptism. The Murray report is basically a three-step argument:

    1) The person refusing to baptize his children is delinquent in doctrine.
    2) It is the duty of the Session to inform the person that his delinquency is serious sin.
    3) The Baptist, after being apprised of this delinquency, cannot honestly affirm “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?

    Which step doesn’t work for you? And, then, can it be a great sin for some church members to neglect the ordinance but, for Baptists, a slight sin that may be overlooked?

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  54. Muddy,

    Your scenario presupposes that the Baptist is already a member, as you write that it would be church members that are neglecting the ordinance. So how you can you welcome someone into membership while holding a certain position, and then turn around and discipline him for holding that same position? You would need to change the whole principle of the catholicity of the Presbyterian church and only allow Presbyterians into membership. I think Murray is a bit harsh in his report making a correlation between Moses who willfully ignored a command of God, and a Baptist struggling to see how something is taught in Scripture but wanting to do the right thing. And it is not that his view is overlooked, but patiently corrected, over time if necessary.

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  55. Todd, when #3 is about a membership vow I don’t get how you think it presupposes membership. The idea is that you would be taking into membership someone who is committing “serious sin.” Hence the Session has not option but to deal with it. And for the membership applicant, he can’t take the vow unless he really intends on immediately submitting to the session after membership.

    When anyone is committing serious open sin at the time of joining the church, you can either tell him to deal with it prior to membership or immediately deal with it when he does join. Or is there another option?

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  56. Todd, it’s not the weak on any essential doctrine and practice in mind but the relatively staunch, the one who has studied and still both refuses to baptize his children and desires membership . It happens, which suggests that everyone involved really believes that the only difference between us is this secondary matter of baptism, that all our friend is simply a Presbyterian-who-doesn’t-baptize-his-kids.

    MG’s question seems simple. Why would you discipline this family already in for neglecting the sacrament but let in this guy not already in and doing the same? Are you going to discipline him the next day (silly) when the day before you could’ve avoided that by simply saying, Look, until this is sorted out membership is delayed?

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  57. Muddy and Zrim,

    It still comes back to a credible profession. If someone is so staunch in any area apart from that which defines a Christian that he refuses to be corrected by God’s word and those appointed to teach it, then his profession may be questioned. However, if he holds to infant baptism, arminianism, non-cessasionism, etc., and so far is convinced the bible teaches such, but expresses an openness to be taught and corrected by God’s word, and evidences a genuine faith in Christ as Savior, then there is no reason to question his profession and refuse him membership. The essential point is not to dare close the door of the kingdom to those whom God has opened it to.

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  58. Todd, thanks. Especially in an age where aggressive Reformed epistemologists roam the webbernet seeking whom they may devour and impugn piety, there is a lot of wisdom in the way Presbyterian churches want to safeguard and not unnecessarily burden a simple and credible profession of faith. As Smith says of the candidate: “He is not examined as to his orthodoxy, but only as to his ‘faith in and obedience unto Christ.'” The candidate is asked to obey more than understand. If that’s true, then he is expected to baptize his children even if he’s not fully convinced of its merit. If he cannot obey, his profession should be questioned.

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  59. Todd, it’s “a great sin” per the WCF. It damages the unity of the church, hence is subject to discipline under the BOD.

    I would be interested to hear you express your perspective while interacting with these.

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  60. Muddy – for sins to approach the level of discipline it should normally be willful sins not sins of ignorance. To condemn or neglect is more serious than misunderstanding the proper timing for children but wanting to obey God, at least how it has been understood in American Presbyterianism. The early church of course held a number of differing views on the proper timing of baptism without condemning or neglecting baptism as a command of God.

    Zrim – To avoid possible misunderstanding, the distinctives of the church should be taught during membership class; potential members have a right to know what will be taught and what the pastor will attempt to convince them of, such as infant baptism, election, cessassionism, etc. But no, he is not asked to do anything against what he believes the Bible teaches; that would be ecclesiastical tyranny. Better he not join than violate his conscience in matters of faith.

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  61. “An offense which is serious enough to warrant a trial is: (1) an offense in the area of conduct and practice which seriously disturbs the peace, purity, and/or unity of the church…”

    I don’t really see your “sins of ignorance” exception. A Baptist has studied the matter, he’s not stupid, he reaches his conclusion and then he engages in the practice of refusing baptism for his children. Other kids wonder why they haven’t been baptized. Adults figure it’s optional. No unity.

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  62. Todd, right, he is asked to obey and if he can’t obey he is not affirmed by membership. But I’m not sure about portraying the expectation as “tyranny,” that is if we truly believe the Bible clearly calls children of believers to be baptized. Would it be “tyranny” to expect the fornicator to repent of it, even if he isn’t convinced in his own mind of its being disobedience, or would we want to be careful to say “it’s a matter of conscience”? Or would both cases be a matter of obedience or disobedience and one must align himself with the former before admission?

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  63. Muddy,

    I would say a unity where the non-essentials are required for agreement is not a true unity. Christian unity is voluntary; it is pursued out of love for God, not fear of elders. For example, unity in marriage is not when the wife simply agrees with her husband on everything no matter what she actually thinks. The baptists in my church do not cause problems, they do not try to convince others of their views; they love God and the church and know the church’s position, and so pursue unity. They certainly aren’t forbidden to share with others their view if it comes up, I have no authority to forbid such a thing. It is enough that I can explain it to them, and they listen, and the rest I can leave to God. Adults in this setting do not need to assume baptism is optional; it is taught as a command, but they also can assume that obeying every command rightly and fully understanding every single doctrine is not a requirement of salvation, and thus church membership. Seems to me for your position to be consistent with the church administering the kingdom of God, baptists that do not baptize their children should not be considered Christians. Is that your view? Or are you suggesting that church and kingdom are not to be equated? Good discussion

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  64. Zrim,

    The case against fornication is clear throughout Scripture, and agrees with natural law, and thus cannot be ignored by the genuine Christian. The case for infant baptism is much more difficult, it is one of good and necessary consequence, and can be misunderstood by people of good faith.

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  65. “For example, unity in marriage is not when the wife simply agrees with her husband on everything no matter what she actually thinks.”

    Me: I don’t understand.

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  66. Zrim,

    It is taught in Scripture, though it depends what you mean by clearly. Not all things, you know…WCF I:7. And if by essential you mean necessary for salvation, it is a non-essential, per the Smith quote. Whether it is essential to being called reformed is a question for another forum or thread.

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  67. Todd, I’m not ignoring your questions to me but meanwhile, would you say church membership is “essential” to being a Christian? Because if it’s not, maybe the Baptist just sits there as a visitor.

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  68. Whatever the benefits of having extra-biblical confessions, the dialog here underscores the downside of them.

    When it leads to the assertion that non-paedo’s are committing “serious sin” and their profession of faith “should be questioned”, (including lumping credo’s in with fornicators) I’m reminded to say a thank-you prayer for the TGC (notwithstanding it could do without Christian cupcake-baking.)

    Fwiw, the idea that candidates for membership are expected to “obey more than understand” sounds a bit, well, mindless…..

    Re: the idea that Baptists disrupt the unity of the church. This begs the question, of course, on whether baptismal practices are a legitimate reason for schism in the church in the first place.

    As a credo, I understand/respect the paedo position, but am simply unconvinced. To that end, Todd, I appreciate your charitable comments (along with those of Mr. Egbert Smith), which are apt and prudent.

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  69. @ Petros: I’m basically with Todd here, but I would like to point out that the majority of Baptist churches, while lacking formal creeds (except for the rare “1689 Baptist” congregation), still will insist that a Presbyterian covenant child be rebaptized before being admitted as a member.

    So the frustration cuts both ways…

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  70. Todd, by clearly I mean so clear that it rises to the second mark of the true church. That’s a pretty high water mark to make of sacraments, as well as all the aforementioned points about its neglect being a great sin. Can we really call the neglect of something unclear “a great sin”? I’d also point to the second mark nature of baptism in response to what “essential” means. It marks the true church. So the point isn’t that it’s necessary for salvation, but it is necessary to discern the church. It would seem that those who want to cling to the true church should also align themselves with her marks.

    Nicean Christology is arguably more difficult than PB. So why does the difficulty of PB factor in ways that the difficulty of NC doesn’t? IOW, why let the grasp of a less difficult doctrine slide but an arguably more difficult one keep someone out (the vows MG quotes above include Christology).

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  71. Petros, you seem somewhat scandalized that baptism is compared to moral life. It betrays the assumption that the Bible is unclear on baptism, so live and let live. It’s the ironical view of many CBs. I wonder if you’d say the same of one who refuses baptism his whole life (for whatever reason)? Live and let live?

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  72. Fwiw, the idea that candidates for membership are expected to “obey more than understand” sounds a bit, well, mindless…..

    Petros, is that what you tell your daughter who makes the studied case for her elective abortion? Or are you the mindless one who says at long last, I get and even respect your thought process but at the end of the day I expect your obedience and if you go in that direction I will hold you morally culpable? Or does the comparison make your knees go weak as well?

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  73. Zrim, now you’re comparing a moral decision on elective abortion with a decision on the proper theology of baptism. Can you clarify how those two decisions are in any way similar?

    Also, what is ironical about the views of credo’s? Again, I don’t get your point. For me, personally, I think the credo view better comports with Biblical teaching, but it’s not an issue over which I’d sever fellowship with, or view a disagreement to be “serious sin”. So, yeah, live and let live. Much as I may appreciate the WCF, when it becomes the “paper pope”, I part ways.

    @Jeff Cagle: I’m a credo, but not a Baptist, per se. I don’t think it’d be prudential for a Baptist church to insist on re-baptism, for the same reasons I don’t think it’s prudential for a Presby church to insist infant baptism. I’d vote for letting each side present the merits of their respective positions, and let the person follow their own conscience.

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  74. Todd, certainly I’m not reasoning from a starting point of what constitutes a Christian. Really, I’m looking at the WCF and looking at the BOD and seeing that rejection of infant baptism is something that should be disciplined. I know you say discipline doesn’t produce unity but disunity is clearly a reason for discipline under the BOD.

    Before Murray’s report there was a debate in the Presbyterian Guardian. It’s evident there has been a major shift of opinions since that time because the disputant was was pro-Baptist said that we should admit them into membership – under the immediate discipline of admonition. As long as the member continued to study the matter the discipline was to be unchanged if the member stopped studying the issue then sterner discipline could follow.

    But of course few people want to join a church so much they will come under immediate discipline and that just seems inferior to telling the Baptist to stick around as a visitor and dialogue about it to see if he can come around on the subject.

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  75. “6. The Church has no right to receive into full membership those who intend committing “the great sin of contemning or neglecting” this holy sacrament.
    (a) Very manifestly it would be most inconsistent for a Church to receive those who expect, at once, to violate the laws of God and the constitution of the Church, especially in regard to one of the only two sacraments of the New Testament; and most certainly no session has a right to receive persons into full communion without “examining them as to their knowledge” of the sacraments. To receive such, and then discipline them would be wrong.”

    So Charles Hodge made a valiant effort to steer the Presbyterian church in the right direction. He assembled statistics on baptism and showed that infant baptism had radically diminished as a practice. And, let’s get real: if you have a bunch of Baptists in your Presbyterian church you are going to go light on Paedobaptism. Then, going light on practice and on teaching, the practice diminishes. It did in his time anyway.

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  76. Petros, the point is meant to be provocative. They are similar inasmuch as God has been clear on what obedience is in each instance. But to recoil at the idea that disobedience is to deny one’s child baptism is as disobedient as elective abortion is to reveal that one doesn’t think God is clear on baptism. And this is what’s ironical for many CBs who define themselves by this one theological doctrine, namely baptism. It’s so important they name themselves after it. Yet at the same time so often they take the latitudinarian and ecumenical approach.

    I didn’t ask your approach on credo v. paedo. I said one who spurns baptism altogether his whole life. Is he disobedient or just following his conscience? If you say disobedient, I fail to see why my point is so scandalous. If you say conscience, what else is on the chopping block?

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  77. Muddy,

    I would respond that you are holding to an over-realized ecclesiology, if I may invent a new term. You are expecting the church courts to do what heaven will do, and that is to unite us under one perfect truth where we all will “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Why didn’t the Apostles ensure the new converts in Acts 2 were more doctrinally astute before allowing them membership in the church? Why did Paul allow the Corinthians membership when clearly they misunderstood some important doctrines? Why not allow the teaching ministry of the church over time to help people grow into doctrinal maturity instead of keeping God’s children from membership until they are in full agreement on doctrine? Is it messy this way? Yes, that is the nature of the church in this age. My turn for a quote:

    Chapter 27 THE REFORMED DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION Loraine Boettner

    “While the Presbyterian Church is preëminently a doctrinal Church, she never demands the full acceptance of her standards by any applicant for admission to her fold. A credible profession of faith in Christ is her only condition of Church membership. She does demand that her ministers and elders shall be Calvinists; yet this is never demanded of lay members. As Calvinists we gladly recognize as our fellow Christians any who trust Christ for their salvation, regardless of how inconsistent their other beliefs may be. We do believe, however, that Calvinism is the only system which is wholly true. And while one can be a Christian without believing the whole Bible, his Christianity will be imperfect in proportion as he departs from the Biblical system of doctrine…a Christian who never knows or never accepts the deeper teachings of the Bible which Calvinism embodies, may be a Christian, but he will be a very imperfect Christian, and it should be the duty of those who know the whole truth to attempt to lead him into the only storehouse which contains the full riches of true Christianity… We are not all Calvinists as we travel the road to heaven, but we shall all be Calvinists when we get there.”

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  78. Todd, not so much on Boettner. The rejection of paedobaptism is not mere belief. It is belief + action.

    You bring up Acts 2, after which they immediately baptized households. Do you suppose they left it up to the converts whether to be baptized?

    If I have an over-realized ecclesiology then so do our secondary standards; I can live with that.

    I wonder about the analogy of a prospective member who informs the Session that he, not the Session, will decide whether his communicant children will receive the Lord’s Supper on any given Sunday. I think it looks pretty strong.

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  79. “If I have an over-realized ecclesiology then so do our secondary standards; I can live with that.”

    Why does your side in this get to claim the standards, since both sides hold to the standards? Are you suggesting that the general practice of the Presbyterian church on this, past, and present, has been unconfessional?

    “I wonder about the analogy of a prospective member who informs the Session that he, not the Session, will decide whether his communicant children will receive the Lord’s Supper on any given Sunday. I think it looks pretty strong.”

    Again, you and Zrim seem to present the communicant Baptist in the worst possible light. If a prospective member warned our session that he will never baptize his children no matter what we say, that would be grounds for not allowing him in. There is a deeper problem there than their view of infant baptism. But that rarely happens. Usually they say they are open to being taught but still don’t see it in the Bible. We are fine with that. Most of the Baptists in my church do come around with time, as do those not fully persuaded on election, and if they don’t, we still enjoy fellowship in Christ together. Have you not seen that in practice?

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  80. I became Presbyterian in 1994 and paedobaptist in 2000. The reverse would probably not have happened.

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  81. “Why does your side in this get to claim the standards, since both sides hold to the standards? Are you suggesting that the general practice of the Presbyterian church on this, past, and present, has been unconfessional?”

    I have argued from the standards and, essentially, you have appealed to a principle of inclusiveness that you take to be superior to them. That’s the appearance, anyway.

    This is getting pretty intramural so I’m going to put a small sampling of relevant material below the line.

    But to expedite the argument, the WCF says “it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance.” That great sin is public, since it will be known that there are children in the church who are unbaptized. A great public sin must be addressed by the Session.

    Are there other great and public sins about which a Session should be laissez faire?

    _____________________________________
    “Although our young children do not yet understand these things, they are nevertheless to be baptized. For God commands that all who are under his covenant of grace be given the sign of the covenant.” DPW III.B.4

    2. It is the right and duty of those who rule in the church of God to maintain order and exercise discipline, for the preservation both of truth and duty. These officers and the whole church must censure or cast out the erroneous or scandalous, always observing the requirements of the Word of God, and seeking the honor of Christ’s name, the good of his church, and the reclamation of the offender. FOG IV.2

    3. Ruling elders…are to watch diligently over the people committed to their charge to prevent corruption of doctrine or morals. Evils which they cannot correct by private admonition they should bring to the notice of the session. FOG X.3

    1. Ecclesiastical discipline is the exercise of that authority which the Lord Jesus Christ has committed to the visible church for the preservation of its purity, peace, and good order.
    3. Judicial discipline is concerned with the prevention and correction of offenses, an offense being defined as anything in the doctrine or practice of a member of the church which is contrary to the Word of God. The purpose of judicial discipline is to vindicate the honor of Christ, to promote the purity of his church, and to reclaim the offender. BOD I

    An offense which is serious enough to warrant a trial is: (1) an offense in the area of conduct and practice which seriously disturbs the peace, purity, and/or unity of the church, BOD 3.7.b

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  82. “I have argued from the standards and, essentially, you have appealed to a principle of inclusiveness that you take to be superior to them. That’s the appearance, anyway.”

    I do not think that’s quite fair. It’s not as if I made up this principle of inclusiveness, it has been the general standard of Presbyterianism for quite some time, though sessions are free to narrow it. You said you had the support of our secondary standards, but you appealed mostly to the tertiary standards. Maybe that is what you meant. In any case, the inclusive side has read the same standards and not come to your conclusion. They have seen that not baptizing children until they are older is not a complete rejection of baptism in total, it is only one aspect of baptism. It seems you don’t want to give any weight to all the aspects of baptism we have in common with credos. Anyway, we have probably gone far enough and each side was fairly presented. I’ll leave you with the last word, as long as that word is not heretic, or Mavs-fan, which would simply be piling on.

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  83. Todd, your over-realized ecclesiology point could be applied to anything. Where do you draw the line and say at least this much has to be affirmed? No one on this side of the table is saying eschateology, predestination, cessationism, prelapsarian. We’re saying gospel and sacraments, as in first and second marks of the church. If tolerating those who refuse to baptize their children is where things should be, can you at least admit that the confessional language about neglect being “a great sin,” etc. needs to be dialed way down? But if it remains dialed up then a stricter regard for them seems consistent. The point isn’t to portray Baptists “in the worst possible light.” It’s to ask what do we think is essential to Reformed faith and practice and to then carry that out accordingly.

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  84. Muddy, Zrim,

    Need to focus on other things this week, thanks.

    Made two faulty assumptions; Parsons would play, Rondo would grow up. My bad

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  85. Muddy Gravel
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink
    A street-person smell just wafted into the comment section. Who just joined us?

    He who said the rhyme did the crime. Whoever spoke last set off the blast. Whoever smelt it dealt it. Whoever denied it supplied it.

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  86. Todd, Rondo asked “why did you bring me here?” and he had a point. The Mavs spread the ball around and Rondo’s a ball control pg. Carlisle is apparently a “my way or the highway guy” and Rondo is an intelligent guy with a strong will and ideas of his own. Doc understood the situation and got the max out of him. Carlisle just got into a train wreck with him. It was a bad fit. Hope Rondo lands on his feet in a situation that fits him.

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  87. “CW: I love everybody.”

    but agree with God about hate for what He hates?

    Proverbs 6:16-19; Rev 2:6; James1:26, etc

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  88. Z, maybe we can argue about whether Baptists should receive corporal punishment. I trust we agree it’s a fitting measure for TVD. Not a New Measure though.

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  89. MG, I thought that was settled among all P&R churches in the affirmative. If not, I guess I’ll actually have to stop beating my (Baptist) wife. I just use a voodoo doll for TVD though.

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  90. oh CW, your love declaration inspired confidence that reproof, (first alwaysincluding oneself), could be safely offered

    have a good day 

    He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you. Prov 9:7-8

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  91. Awww CW,

    I hope you see you did actually deploy that verse, even though you didn’t….. technically – that, is self-righteousness and hypocrisy! I said deploying things ‘first to one own heart’, so maybe you’re making a judgment on the sincerity of that desire. Anysway, if you don’t agree those reproofs are appropriate for some things that go on here, then we can just agree to disagree.

    love, a.

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  92. @ Zrim, Muddy:

    Musing aloud, I have two questions.

    (1) A Baptist does not “neglect” the issue of baptism, but understands it wrongly. Does that make him a Moses, who failed to circumcise his son despite the clear command, or more like the woman at the well, who worshiped at the wrong mountain? Does that make a difference here?

    (2) The Baptist critique of infant baptism includes a charge of residual Constantinianism as the driving force behind infant baptism theology. Does the strong stance towards Anabaptists in e.g. the Belgic give credence to this, or is it an accidental appearance?

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  93. Timmy. TIMMAY!!!. Parker on one leg, done. Manu, shell of himself, fouls out. Kawhi, pretty nice. TIMMAY! at 39 plays Griffin and Jordan to a draw and shows up in OT. TIMMAY!!!!! That’s what it looks like when you’re just better than anyone else on the floor, even when you’re old. How is it that when three of your four are old, you actually want to extend the series? Magic. Poor poor ponies. Now we’ll see what 44 minutes did to Timmay come friday night.

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  94. Jeff, true, what he neglects is not the issue of baptism but the baptism of his child. I say Moses. If Moses can be kept from the land of promise (for striking a rock and Adam from eternal life for eating the fruit), why not the Baptist from membership for resisting baptism of his child (somebody hand Petros a paper bag)? The issue is obedience to what God clearly commands in all instances.

    Accidental appearance. They same the same thing about it being a residual Romanism as well. If that’s true then the whole theology has to be dismantled and re-examined. But it’s constructed on a sound biblical theology, supplemented on good historical theology.

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  95. Zrim, if you are conscience-bound by your paper pope to consider Baptists and fornicators as being similar in their disobedience and thus guilty of “serious sin”, that’s fine. Do you think your view on this is a normative one within the P&R world?

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  96. Jeff, I take “neglect” in an objective sense, i.e., something is not done which ought to be done.

    C. Hodge draws a direct line between the consequence of non-circumcision and his prescription for the consequence of non-paedobaptism.

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  97. Petros, the P&R world can seem as latitudinarian as the non-P&R world.

    I’m still curious what you make of one who neglects even his own baptism.

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  98. Z, there’s probably a bit of “it’s not that important if it’s not salvific” going on. We (rightly) don’t believe baptism saves, but that doesn’t mean it’s not really, really important. There’s no getting away from the effects of evangelicalism/revivalism in this country, which you well know.

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  99. @ Petros:

    I would like to clear away one issue, the one that leads to the phrase “paper pope”, which is inaccurate.

    For a Confessionalist such as myself (or “Confessional Biblicist” to be more precise), a creed or confession represents the collective wisdom of the church speaking as church. As such,

    (1) It has a subordinate authority.

    Just as your pastor has authority to speak the Word from the pulpit, so the Church has the authority to make judgments about doctrinal questions.

    Those judgments are always theoretically subject to review from Scripture, which is why their authority is subordinate — hence not papal in any sense.

    (2) It is presumed to have a higher degree of accuracy than individual opinion.

    Churches and councils can err (says our Confession, thus repudiating the charge of “paper pope” at a stroke), but so can individuals. Given incomplete information, a confession is more likely to be right than a single elder.

    Clearly, given (1), that presumption is not absolute (hence, not papal again). So confessions can and have been revised or even refined in the understanding.

    One example would be a refined understanding of the term “catholic church” in the Apostle’s Creed.

    So when we employ the confession against Anabaptist teachings, it is not because the confession settles all, but because the collective witness of the Reformed churches considered the Anabaptist argument and found it wanting. That places a burden of proof on the Anabaptist, not on the Presbyterian, to prove his position from Scripture.

    The key to distinguishing here is absolute infallibility, which is the Catholic system, over against burden of proof and weight of evidence, which is the Presbyterian system.

    Hope that helps?

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  100. MG: Jeff, I take “neglect” in an objective sense, i.e., something is not done which ought to be done.

    I hear that, and I suspect that is probably the intended meaning.

    Still and all, I think there is probably a greater degree of culpability for Moses, who *knew* to circumcise and did not, than there was for the Samaritan woman, who grew up in culture that was *certain* that worship should have been on the mountain instead of the temple.

    Moses was flatly disobedient; the Samaritan was disobedient in a mistaken understanding.

    Baptists these days, as opposed to the 16th century Anabaptists, grow up in a culture where credo is all they know. That doesn’t make it right, but it makes them less than Moses, I think.

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  101. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 23, 2015 at 6:24 am | Permalink
    vd, t, you’re a bright guy (not really). If you can connect the dots between Beza and Jefferson, surely you “got” this.

    Clearly you didn’t ‘get’ the reply, professor. And thank me very much on the Beza tip: I’m sure your next “history” will include the whole history of your religion, not just the parts that support your particular version of Two Kingdoms theology.

    You have taught me much, albeit by omission.

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  102. @Zrim, re: neglecting one’s own baptism. Sorry, that’s too fuzzy of a hypothetical to respond to. What are that person’s reasons? Maybe one thing if the person wants to defer being baptized for a period of time to wait for a venue where he can do it more publicly in front of neighbors, friends, and family. Maybe another thing if somehow the guy has theological convictions against baptism. Probably 1000 diff scenarios one could think of.

    For better or worse, one problem with a topic like this is that paedo’s and credo’s understand the word ‘baptism’ differently, in the first place. When the Curmudgeon says “One enters the church…by baptism”, he presumably refers to water baptism. I cringe at that because I’d understand that one enters the church, the body of Christ, via the baptism of the Spirit (I Cor 12:13) immediately upon conversion. This is separate and distinct from water baptism, which some of us would view to be merely an outward symbol of the inner reality of the person’s conversion. Water baptism is important, but contra CW, not (adverb alert) “really, really important”. Alas, no need to re-hash all the diffs between paedo’s and credo’s….

    If the effects of evangelicalism are to not equate (lack of) water baptism with fornicating, I offer yet another thank-you prayer for evangelicalism, and take the piper-pope over the paper-pope.

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  103. @Jeff Cagle. Let me say I especially appreciate all of your comments at OL (not just on this thread). Always reasoned and thoughtful.

    Thanks for the elaboration on the paper-pope phrase. I actually do understand the background and benefits to the confessions. My use of the phrase “paper-pope” was in response to CW’s invocation of the “piper pope”, with presumed reference to the TGC and the esteemed John Piper.

    The downside to confessions, it seems to me, is that, by their nature, one has to buy into them hook/line/sinker. Brilliant as the WCF may be, or whatever the OPC rules/regs may be, if a good and necessary consequence of them is that Baptists are viewed to have the same churchly status as fornicators, well, I’ll have to decline.

    Wrt to the theology of credo-vs-paedo views (admittedly, not the essence of this particular thread), I think John MacArthur’s take trumps RC Sproul’s take (easy to find their debate on youtube).

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  104. Petros, one who neglects his baptism for whatever reason. But if it helps, one who does so because he holds that “one enters the church, the body of Christ, via the baptism of the Spirit immediately upon conversion” (so who gives two hoots about water and ceremony and blahblahblah). Still, reasons are great but why is the reason so important? PB and CB aside, if you believe baptism is commanded by God (for children of professors and adult professors or just adult professors), then isn’t neglect disobedience regardless of the reason?

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  105. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 23, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, so now you’re well schooled in the history of Baptists?

    Enough to understand your question. But the Presbyterians fought and won the American Revolution, which is far more interesting than the Baptists reaping its fruits.

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  106. @Zrim, littering is breaking the law. 1st degree murder is breaking the law. So, they are the same, in that one way, but hugely different in other ways. I’d submit that baptism and fornication (or elective abortion) are hugely different, and I’m not sure a blog is the place to break that all down for you.

    Whether I’m going to be overly concerned about someone who neglects being baptized depends entirely upon their reasons. But at the end of the day, yeah, I’m far more concerned about the solidity of the person’s personal faith commitment to Christ, than I am about the water and ceremony blahblahblah.

    I get that infant baptism and strict adherence to confessions and church polity is a pretty big, and serious, deal to you and others. But, gotta say that Erik, in his inimitable way, cleverly expresses a worthwhile caution when he says: “There’s an element of the Presbyterian & Reformed world that won’t rest until their entire church can meet comfortably in a phone booth.” The TGC and the broader world of eeeevangelicalism, warts and all, looks pretty good to me.

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  107. Muddy and Zrim,

    I have some time now to continue.

    Do you see that your view opens the door for ecclesiastical tyranny. You believe not baptizing babies is a serious enough offense to bar one from the Table, and thus church membership. Our Confession states many errors of both doctrine and practice. Which ones will you consider serious enough for such action? If a man stops at McDonalds on the way home from church because he does not see the WCF view of the Sabbath taught in the NT, should he be barred from the privileges of membership? What about non-cessasionists who still believe the supernatural gifts are in some way operative today? Should their Christian profession be questioned? What about theonomists who disagree with the 1788 modifications? Who gets to decide which disagreements with the Confession are serious enough to bar from membership? If you do not bind and loose according to the Bible’s simple definition of a Christian, you become the arbiters based on your own prejudices of who is a Christian and who is not, who can come to the Lord’s Table, and not. That is very dangerous. And if you make the requirements of church membership narrower than the requirements of being a Christian revealed in Scripture, how are you administering the kingdom of God that in his word God gets to define? And while Hodge was concerned at the lack of teaching on infant baptism in the churches, he would not be friendly to your view to bar Baptists from church membership. Please read below:

    Charles Hodge – The Church and its Polity (1879)

    The principles of church communion are so clearly laid down in Scripture, and so distinctly stated in our standards, that whenever we see such inquiries as the above presented, we take it for granted they come from Congregationalists, who think, in many cases, each particular parish church may establish its own terms of communion, or from some other source, foreign to our church. Knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, faith to feed upon Him, repentance, love and new obedience, are the only condition of Christian communion which any church on earth has a right to impose. The Lord’s Table is for the Lord’s people, and we commit a great sin if we presume to debar any man, giving credible evidence of being a child of God, from our Christian fellowship… Now this we confidently affirm, that this is not the doctrine of the Presbyterian Church, but on the contrary, is in direct opposition to her spirit and principles. The first proof of the correctness of this declaration, though negative, is conclusive. The fact that our Church no where enjoins the adoption of the Confession of Faith as a term of Christian communion, is proof positive that she does not consider it necessary. She wisely demands the adoption of that Confession of all who are admitted to the office of bishop, or ruling elder, or deacon, but she has never required it from the private members of the church. Many of our New School brethren went to the extreme of asserting that our Church required of her ministers nothing but was essential to the Christian character; and now it seems that some are for going to the opposite extreme, and teach that the Confession of Faith is the test not only of ministerial, but of Christian communion. These extremes are equally dangerous and equally opposed to our standards… Who are we, that we should refuse communion with those with whom Christ and his Holy Ghost commune?…Nothing, therefore, can be plainer than that our Church requires nothing more than credible evidence of Christian character as the condition of Christian communion.
    (pgs. 218 & 219)

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  108. Todd, tonight is the best chance for the Celts to win a game so I’m preoccupied. But Hodge was a voice in the wilderness trying to reverse the Presbyterian indifference to infant baptism. He opposed your position.

    He quotes Calvin:
    While it is sufficiently clear that the force, and so to speak, the substance of baptism are common to children, to deny these the sign, which is inferior to the substance, were manifest injustice.”—(Calvin’s Tracts, vol. 2, p. 89.) And again, “How unjust shall we be, if we drive away from Christ those whom he invites to him; if we deprive them of the gifts with which he adorns them; if we exclude those whom he freely admits?”— Calvin’s Institutes, b. 4, ch. 2, sec. 7.. . . “we ought to be alarmed by the vengeance which God threatens to inflict, if any one disdains to mark his son with the symbol of the covenant; for the contempt of that symbol involves the rejection and abjuration of the grace which it presents.”—Institutes, b. 4, ch. 16, sec. 9.

    He finds support in our standards:
    “that the seed of the faithful have no less a right to this ordinance, than the seed of Abraham to circumcision.”—Direct. For Worship, ch. 7, sec. 4. [see OPC DPW III.B.b.2] . . . “Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,” &c.—Confession of Faith, ch. 28, sec. 5. “Baptism is not to be unnecessarily delayed.”—Direct. For Worship, ch. 7, sec. 1. [OPC DPW III.A.2]

    And he concludes: “[t]he Church has no right to receive into full membership those who intend committing ‘the great sin of contemning or neglecting’ this holy sacrament.”

    http://google.com/books?id=AVAAAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=text

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  109. Petros, DGH is right. Baptists are free to visit with us and chat with smiles all around. But if a Methodist visited I’d sneak out of the service to vandalize the bumper stickers on her car.

    Jeff, I think your personal story can cut both ways, meaning there are other kinds of people that might never take it seriously enough to engage it in earnest if the church they want to join downplays the importance of paedobaptism.

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  110. Muddy,

    The Hodge quotes seem incongruous. I wonder if Hodge is speaking of the Baptists that join our churches. The baptists that join our churches, if parents, are those who say, “this is new to me, and I’ll need time to listen, study, etc…, and if you can show me from the Word infant baptism is correct we will baptize our children.” That might take years though. I’m not sure that is who Hodge is speaking of when he chides those that condemn or neglect a Biblical ordinance, which I am assuming would be knowingly and willingly. Maybe a Hodge expert can help us out here.

    Where I won’t concede is your excuse making for Rondo, a professional athlete who is expected to play hard for his teammates even if he does not like his coach, you know, be an adult who is getting millions of dollars to play basketball. But go Celts – love Brad Stevens.

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  111. Another area where the baptists among us suffer is in their membership vows. More often than not, they are not dedicated churchmen and are amongst the first to forsake their vows over the smallest of issues. If you are weak on covenant theology, then you are weak on baptism. If you are weak on baptism and covenant theology then you will have a low view of church membership and vow keeping. I have seen it play out in our church over and over again. Baptist admitted into membership? 80% chance they will leave in two years. It’s better to take your time with people from baptist backgrounds and make sure they know what they are getting into . I suggest holding off making them members for at least two years and only after extensive discipleship and classroom time with the elders. Anything less seems to be a waste of everybody’s time.

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  112. @ Amish –
    -wise words there on baptists, membership vows, and a long period of catechism before membership. Kind of in line with Paul’s advice to not lay hands on someone too quickly.

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  113. Petros, yes, different trespasses are of a different severity and deserve a different treatment. No need to break it down for me. But how is “the solidity of the person’s personal faith commitment to Christ” gauged? What does that vague term even mean? Can you conceive of someone who claims to have it but demonstrates in other ways that make you doubt it? If not, I wonder how long you’ve been on earth. You seem to (rightly) think fornication isn’t pious, so how about the guy who wants you to believe in the “solidity of his personal faith commitment to Christ” while he also shacks up with his girlfriend? Are you being an uncharitable Christian by calling his claim into doubt in light of his moral behavior? Probably not. So why are others who take the sacramental life of professing Christians just as seriously as you take their moral life? My answer: because you don’t take sacramental life nearly as seriously as you do moral life. Some might say that’s more a mark of a moralist than a Christian.

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  114. Todd, you keep making the ecclesiastical tyranny point. I get it and I actually quite agree with you. But I ask again, Where do you draw the line and how do you escape the same charge of tyranny when you do?

    Here again are the OPC membership vows:

    (1)Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?

    (2) Do you believe in one living and true God, in whom eternally there are three distinct persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—who are the same in being and equal in power and glory, and that Jesus Christ is God the Son, come in the flesh?

    (3) Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, that you repent of your sin, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?

    (4) Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord, and do you promise that, in reliance on the grace of God, you will serve him with all that is in you, forsake the world, resist the devil, put to death your sinful deeds and desires, and lead a godly life?

    (5) Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church’s worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?

    Assuming anybody who answers in the negative to any of these vows, you won’t admit the one who expresses doubts as to the sufficiency and infallibility of Scripture; who is Arian; who is a fornicator; will not forsake the world; who resists church oversight and discipline. How are you not hogging the keys of the kingdom and making its entrance more difficult than it should be?

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  115. @Zrim. If, as a sacramentalist, you want to gauge the spiritual commitment of a parent by inquiring whether they had a pastor sprinkle water on their infant, or not, then please do. Some might call such focus on outward ritual to be more pharisaic than Christian.

    It’s entertaining to listen in here as you all adjudicate amongst yourselves how to parse the tiniest of your churchly rules and regulations, with related accusations towards even other P&R folks that they deviate from (OL’s brand of) orthodoxy.

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  116. “Assuming anybody who answers in the negative to any of these vows, you won’t admit the one who expresses doubts as to the sufficiency and infallibility of Scripture; who is Arian; who is a fornicator; will not forsake the world; who resists church oversight and discipline. How are you not hogging the keys of the kingdom and making its entrance more difficult than it should be?”

    Zrim,

    Great question. I do not think the argument for baptizing babies is as clear from the Bible as the infallibility of Scripture, the deity of Christ, or the sinfulness of fornication. While rejection of the latter three (which is a denial of explicit teaching of Scripture) would disqualify the person from taking those vows, and bring into question a credible profession, not seeing the connection between OT circumcision and NT baptism, (which is a good and necessary consequence argument) would not.

    There certainly is flexibility session to session as to what each session believes enables someone to take those membership vows knowledgeably and in good conscience, but it still goes back to what the Bible defines as a Christian, and I think that has a fairly objective answer. Our philosophy, which may be in the minority, is that if we are going to err, better to err on the side of letting a hypocrite in than keeping a believer out. God will take care of the hypocrite ultimately. I do not think joining the church should be a long, laborious process, as I do not see that happening in Scripture. At the same time prospective members must show consistency in worship attendance, sit through the membership classes and explanations of *all* the doctrines of Presbyterianism, and have a credible profession. But we know as a session people will lie, will think they are believers though not, we will get burned, people will leave for childish reasons even though they will commit to try to resolve any conflict first, etc…and there are times when we allow people to join even as we wonder if they really get it or mean it. We’d rather assume the best and deal with the fallout later than make them wait a year or more until they understand and agree with every doctrine and “prove” themselves to us. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach, but that is just where we are at as a session as far as how we see the church in Scripture.

    Hope that answers your question.

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  117. Arrgh, good to see Amish around. Who didn’t enjoy watching Urban maul Sabin and Kiffin? You don’t even have to like Ohio, me, to enjoy that beat down. Good things. Then there’s the little red ponies……yea, Carlisle deserved more than what Rondo gave, not dissimilar to the efforts we get from Ref 21. Cuban, on the other hand, deserved exactly what he bought.

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  118. @ sean –
    Arrgh, good to see Amish around. Who didn’t enjoy watching Urban maul Sabin and Kiffin? You don’t even have to like Ohio, me, to enjoy that beat down. Good things. Then there’s the little red ponies……yea, Carlisle deserved more than what Rondo gave, not dissimilar to the efforts we get from Ref 21. Cuban, on the other hand, deserved exactly what he bought.

    For us non-Latin speakers, is there a Google translation?…

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  119. Jack, drink a couple shots and it’s crystal clear. But then you’ll be so startled about understanding Sean that you’ll quickly do a couple more.

    The Celts needed a couple more shots, too but they’ve come a long way for a team with ten sixth men and five #12 guys.

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  120. Petros, glad to provide some comic relief for you. But you understand that the suggestions of pettiness and pharisaism are just as viable in your direction when you question the moral and spiritual soundness of those who abort and fornicate?

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  121. Todd, you think the deity (and humanity) of Christ is more straight forward from the Bible than baptism? Wow. I’d bet most laity (even a lot of officers) don’t really understand the metaphysical complexities of that mysterious doctrine. Christology is vexing, at least for those humble enough to admit it. And yet, we expect a humble confession of the Nicene formula. The connection between OT circumcision and NT baptism is arguably much more straight forward and easier to grasp. And yet, much hand wringing over asking professors to humbly submit to its doctrine and practice. My own strong suspicion is that what’s at work here isn’t so much making the yoke easy but trying to make the tent big.

    As Jeff alluded to earlier, we have gotten pretty comfortable with the phenomenon of those who aren’t full-on Anabaptists but also aren’t full-on Protestants, i.e. Baptists. Only modernity could deliver such creatures. I get it. I have Baptists friends and family, and I consider them in the main to be sheep without the fold. The point isn’t to keep people out, it’s to coax the sheep in. Evangie guys like Petros won’t likely buy that, but I would hope Reformed fellows like yourself would.

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  122. “Wow. I’d bet most laity (even a lot of officers) don’t really understand the metaphysical complexities of that mysterious doctrine.”

    You do not need to grasp the metaphysical complexities of the hypostatic union to affirm the deity of Christ for church membership. Most Christians understand and affirm the deity of Christ and biblical inspiration immediately yet take years to come to reformed convictions. And if the church administers the kingdom, the point would be to make the church tent as wide as the kingdom.

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  123. Todd, I’m not sure it’s simply the deity of Christ the vow is getting at. Again:

    “Do you believe in one living and true God, in whom eternally there are three distinct persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—who are the same in being and equal in power and glory, and that Jesus Christ is God the Son, come in the flesh?”

    One God, three persons. Not easy. But my point still stands. Nobody is asking for erudition, just submission, and that on a decidedly more difficult doctrine. I’m all for prioritizing obedience to understanding and “growing into or working out one’s faith.” TMI alert but that’s what I did on baptism. We’re on the same page generally, it’s just that for whatever reason you think baptism is a particularly unclear and too difficult doctrine and practice to ask for humble submission.

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  124. Zrim,

    it’s just that for whatever reason you think baptism is a particularly unclear and too difficult doctrine and practice to ask for humble submission.

    I am not saying we need to become originalists, but the church during the patristic era was much more flexible on the doctrine of infant baptism. Think of Monica, whose bishop counseled against baptizing Augustine, that the child should wait until after conversion. It seems that infant baptisms were delayed in some cases. In other cases baptism was delayed until near death, and still in others baptism wasn’t administered until after rigorous catechetical training. The church still confessed ¨one faith, one baptism¨, and all baptized Christians were considered members of the church in good standing, regardless of the time of administration.

    Again, not saying that we should dispense with our Reformed doctrines surrounding baptism, but I think that it needs to be understood broadly against the catholicity of the faith (sorry McMark). This doesn’t even mean we need formal unity with Christians who believe differently, just that we should be more understanding of the broadness of how baptism is understood.

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  125. Jed, there are no Baptist churches in NAPARC yet we don’t make NAPARC synonymous with the earthly church. So why not take the position that, OK, you may be a Christian but you’ll have to go elsewhere if you want us to submit (elders agreeing to back off) to your baptism?

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  126. Muddy,

    What would you say if there were not an elsewhere to go? What if you were the only church in a small town or island that preaches the gospel, or the other credo church in town was abusing its members? And if not submitting to infant baptism is as bad as you say, how can you in good conscience send Christians to churches that deny it?

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  127. Muddy,

    If we (Presbys at least) commune Baptists, Lutherans, etc., why would we turn them away from attending. I realize my PCA slip is showing here, but I personally advocate a more tolerant, patient approach to baptists who would prefer to attend a Reformed congregation where they are hearing the Gospel, and are regularly exposed to the means of grace. In time a lot do assimilate to the Reformed doctrines of the sacraments.

    Maybe if there’s a solid Baptist congregation, yes refer them out. But, in the absence of this, I would opt for letting them stay. I do think that membership needs to be held out for those who subscribe to Reformed standards though.

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  128. @Zrim, you’re stuck on your analogy of equating (lack of) baptism with abortion and fornication. All three of them apparently violate your sensibilities equally. For just about the entire rest of the world, believers and unbelievers, they are categorically different. Your analogy doesn’t work on any level, so it’s hard to interact with. Todd previously noted that the latter violates natural law. Abortion and fornication, once done, cannot be undone, and impact other people. A baptism really impacts no one else, and can still happen in the future. Etc, etc.

    The operative point here has to do with you wanting to establish barriers to church membership. You’re entitled to, I suppose. On my end, anyone who has made a genuine a profession of faith in Christ – irrespective of their views (if they even have any) about baptism, or whatever moral sins they’ve committed in the past or are currently struggling with – is immediately a member of the universal church and hence, far be it from me to say they can’t be a member of my local church. They will be warmly welcomed.

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  129. Spurs got big assist from Blake Griffin last time. Hoping tonight Chris Paul will be the stand out loser.
    Tim Duncan and Leonard are enough, if Spurs hit threes.

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  130. Jed, not to undermine church history, but invoking certain names in the halls of catholicity doesn’t persuade. I’d say the same to Monica’s bishop as I would to today’s Baptist (d o not delay Auggie’s baptism), and to those who delay adult baptism until after rigorous catechetical training (sorry, simple faith is enough, save the rigor for the table).

    And nobody is saying Baptists couldn’t attend (heck, atheists may attend). Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend. The question is membership, which is altogether different.

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  131. Petros, I repeat: your moralist slip is showing. The sacraments matter. And again: the point isn’t to bar but to coax. You want membership? Good, that’s indication of the work of the Spirit. But there are standards. That’s the work of his undershepherds. if you want membership, here is the threshold. Come further, I’m pulling and praying for you.

    “…anyone who has made a genuine a profession of faith in Christ – irrespective of their views (if they even have any) about baptism, or whatever moral sins they’ve committed in the past or are currently struggling with – is immediately a member of the universal church and hence, far be it from me to say they can’t be a member of my local church. They will be warmly welcomed.”

    This assumes repentance of moral failure is at work. If there is the same for sacramental failure, then I agree with you–warmly welcomed.

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  132. Petros, nice how you make up the conditions under which you recognize someone as a member of the church.

    But will you commune someone who objects to your pastor’s refusal to baptize babies, and also speaks to others in the church about the pastor’s unfaithfulness to Scripture?

    That’s in part what this debate is about.

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  133. McMark, work harder at not diminishing my Spurs. Griffin lacked the character of Timmay, which isn’t an assist from Griffin, it’s the game long mounting pressure of the aging but superior player causing you to crack mentally when it mattered most. Timmay!!! Here’s hoping Parker took his magic water and can get something going. Major storms last night, power is down throughout the city, we’ll do our best to keep the A/C on, we’ve temped out some extra squirrels to work the fan motors. Might be some food borne illness outbreaks due to lack of electricity last night, things happen. Acts of God and all.

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  134. @Zrim, I’m very convinced that fornicating and taking human life are evil sins. I’m very very unconvinced that lack of sprinkling water on an infant is an evil sin. If that makes me a moralist, I’m a very happy moralist.

    Regardless of the merits of paedo vs credo positions, this discussion quickly devolves around how clear you think Scripture is about (lack of) infant baptism being an evil sin. Since you’re the one making that a barrier to local church membership, it’s your side that has upped the ante on the topic. For your sake, one could hope that you’re right, lest you lay pharisaic obstacles upon others. For us latitudinarian big tent TGC eeeevangelicals, it’s not something we would ever make an issue of, one way or the other.

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  135. I think we should change the chant from, “Go Spurs Go”(stupid but pretty effective with 20k getting after it) to ‘Come sweat with us, we’ve got your pickle juice’ It’s got all sorts of opportunities attached to it and of course the squirrels will be doing their darndest. Turn that wheel little man.

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  136. Muddy and Zrim,

    Looking back at some of your comments, there might be some confusion. I am not suggesting we commune people with a hatred for election or paedo-communion with an insistence from them that they be allowed in without ever reconsidering the topic. People like that do not usually attend our churches, and if they do, they certainly do not ask to be members, at least in my church. And I am not suggesting we ignore or downplay these truths in membership classes (my daughter and son-in-law joined a sister denomination a few years ago and to my dismay, in their one brief membership class, paedo-communion was not even mentioned – he was raised baptist but was open, and she was pregnant! I ended up explaining the doctrine to him and with their session’s permission baptized my grandson). The ones we commune want a good church with good theology, and simply need time to understand and assent to the reformed system in the Confession, and depending on their background, mental abilities, station in life, etc., may take years to get there. The only question is; do you hold off membership until that happens, or is membership the God-ordained means for that to happen? I would argue the latter.

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  137. Todd, I’m with you on working with the amenable group, maybe not all the way to membership, but, I’ve experienced more than a few membered up RB’s in open protest at church. I’m not sure how uncommon that experience is. Of course, that’s PCA.

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  138. Petros, yes, I very very know all that. Our differences owe to high and low views of the sacraments. For evangies like yourself, low views and their implications come with the territory. What’s vexing is the same among fellow confessionalists who seem at ease in taking your cues.

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  139. If you’re going to be a convinced-paedo, Todd’s approach seems best. Further, I don’t think a paedo church should pre-emptively worry about credo’s causing a stir in their church. If they cause a stir, then fine to address their disunity at that time. But, it should be their ‘causing a stir’ that should subject them to church discipline, but not whether they are credo’s.

    Fwiw, I’d recommend that Baptist churches take the same approach to paedo’s who darken their doors. Z, that’s just to demonstrate I’m an equal opportunity who-really-cares-guy about baptism.
    There are way bigger fish to fry than that issue. This is one reason parachurch orgs like Navigators — who focus on discipleship, Bible Study, prayer, witnessing – are so (adverb alert) magnificently effective. They don’t get tangled up with issues like this, and for my money, they’ve got the right Biblical priorities.

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  140. Petros, don’t you believe in the Great Commission? Haven’t you noticed that “baptize” is right there in the favorite text of evangelicals like yourself? Evangelism, prayer, and witnessing aren’t.

    So we’re supposed to take your word over Jesus’?

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  141. Petros: ” I’d recommend that Baptist churches take the same approach.”

    When you ask Presbyterian churches to allow Baptists to decide on the sacrament for their children, the “same approach” would be Baptists doing paedobaptism to accommodate Presbyterians. Are you up for that?

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  142. DGH, you are the master of diversionary tactics, to be sure. But hey, if you get warm-fuzzies over sprinkling infants and think that’s a Biblical priority, go for it. Or, if you think not sprinkling infants is akin to fornication and the taking of human life, go for that, too. Presumably you are historically aware that evangelicals do view baptism to be important – the particulars on credo vs paedo being entirely secondary – and, we’ll just stop far short of the measures recommended by your friends on this thread.

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  143. Jed, Todd, et al., suppose you had a patriarchalist who says he will decide if/when his children will get communion? Do you let him do his thing hoping he’ll see differently some day? Or how does it differ?

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  144. Muddy, my larger point is only that I would view the mode and timing of baptism to be a secondary issue, and one that shouldn’t be elevated to the level of being something that Christians should sever fellowship over. That’s not to force a Presby to do anything against their conscience, nor to force a Baptist to do something against their conscience. I would just hope that each of their “consciences” wouldn’t be so sensitive as to deny fellowship with each other in a local church. I realize that’s a minority viewpoint around OL.

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  145. Why must principled positions be reduced to hostility? That’s the essence of latitudinarianism. (Not saying anyone is there other than Petros.) Look, you’re friendly to Baptist visitors, you get to know them, you have discussions about baptism. You just expect them to come around to paedobaptism before joining.

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  146. I understand, Petros, but there really is no neutrality on the issue and it actually is pretty close to the center of what a particular church is all about. It’s what separates a church from The Gospel Coalition.

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  147. Steve,

    Don’t you mean ordinance rather than sacrament? A sacrament really applies the thing signified. If it doesn’t really accomplish what it is sent forth to do, it isn’t coming from God’s side, right? It what sense does it save?

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  148. Petros, as a rule real PBs don’t darken CB doors. Perhaps there are some exceptions, but even then a real PB wouldn’t be put off in the slightest if the tables were turned, i.e. they wouldn’t expect membership from those who take their CB seriously.

    To your response to MG’s question, you can take the high road all you please, but if the PB pastor is expected to tolerate the CBs neglect, it’s hardly clear why the CB pastor shouldn’t be expected to indulge the PB’s convictions. Like the man said, that’s actually what “the same approach” would look like. You may be above it all but you’re hardly making sense.

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  149. Mud,

    Jed, Todd, et al., suppose you had a patriarchalist who says he will decide if/when his children will get communion? Do you let him do his thing hoping he’ll see differently some day? Or how does it differ?

    Waaay below the belt there Mudsworth, methinks I am now a soprano.

    Seriously, fair question. It differs on a couple of grounds – one historical: paedocommunion is a relatively new phenomenon in the church. In many non-Reformed branches one could not partake until after confirmation, being fully catechized, etc. In Reformed circles, a credible profession plus baptism has historically been the litmus test for eligibility – regardless of fencing. Credo-baptism and other varieties of adult baptism have a long history in the Church, so they aren’t novelties.

    The other is related, but doctrinal. We are assuming that baptists communing in a Reformed congregation have been baptized and have given/can provide a credible confession of faith. We cannot assume the same for the kiddo nipping from the communion wine. While there is no hard and fast age where the conscience and will are fully-formed, but it would be safe to assume that the covenant child prior to at least his early teens is capable of much more than parroting a confession based on the urging of his parents. And the key to the whole matter is that while there is little clear instruction on the subject of baptism, there is ample Biblical instruction on communion for us to know how it should be partaken. It also comes with real warnings, not to partake in an unworthy matter or to face grave spiritual consequences. The Reformed minister should take his pastoral call seriously here and not subject the child to the danger of misusing the sacrament. I see no such warning over baptism.

    Besides, patriarchal Christians are weird.

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  150. Jed, at Presbytery a minister smelled patriarchalism and said that something “unsavory” may be going on. I later thanked him for providing the most quote-worthy moment of Presbytery.

    But you see the point(s) of my example. In both cases the session is allowing the parent to decide the extent of his children’s membership in the church. Both affect the integrity of the sacraments and, in both, the church is abdicating its authority. As it were, giving the keys to the members.

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  151. MG, not to speak for Todd but he has been pretty clear that this sort of lone and stalwart cowboy attitude wouldn’t fly with him no matter what the issue (and I presume not even for the anti-patriarchalist). That said, it is an interesting point insofar as paedo-communion is the mirror error of credo-baptism, the upshot being that what is said here about one (get thee thy son to the font) could be said of the other (stay thee thy daughter from the table…until she professeth of course).

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  152. Petros, thanks, I try.

    You sir have yet to arrive at the Master level of performance: “Or, if you think not sprinkling infants is akin to fornication and the taking of human life.”

    Do you laugh at jokes about farts too?

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  153. Petros, how about this. While provisionally speaking, refusing to baptize one’s infant and taking a life are quite different and so receive different civil treatments, spiritually speaking they aren’t and so receive the same religious treatment. This depends on the secular/sacred distinction, but maybe you aren’t wild about that and rather they be collapsed? In that case, they’d have to be treated the same in both the sacred and secular domains. But how? Death penalty for both but no discipline or discipline for both but no DP? I trust you see the conundrum of the latter and the good sense of the former.

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  154. Zrim & Mud,

    I agree, the comparison between credobaptism and paedocommunion is interesting, compelling, and useful. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they are mirror errors, because I think this equates the two sacraments when they are in fact distinct, and are accomplishing different but related tasks. Baptism is the mark of the covenant, what declares us ¨in¨ the community – and obviously much more, but it’s primarily concerned with one’s identity, and even the beginning of the Christian pilgrimage. Communion speaks more to the sustaining power of Christ, it is the meal along the way and grace for the journey. Both point to Christ, and are seals of his work on our behalf.

    So, while I agree that how we handle misunderstandings of one sacrament vs. another necessitate comparison, I would be careful in saying that solving one problem (paedocommunion) necessarily solves the other (credobaptism).

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  155. @Zrim, I follow your logic and the conundrum that you find yourself in. I feel for you. It’s not a conundrum for my side, because spiritually speaking, the mode/timing of baptism is not the big yank (ie, meritorious of church discipline) that it is to your side. Important, but not a big yank, for any number of historical, exegetical, and prudential, reasons.

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  156. Muddy,

    I may have missed a few posts, but I’m trying to understand your position. It seems you and Zrim are not exactly agreeing. Zrim seems to be saying that for a confession to operate as a real confession there should not be a two-tiered membership where the officers hold to the confession but not necessarily the members, (which of course is standard presbyterianism.) Are you agreeing with Zrim? If not, you seem to be saying that a member does not have to affirm election or the Sabbath, for example, to still be a member, but there is something about infant baptism that is so central to the faith that it must be affirmed for membership. Is that fair? So if you do not hold to a two-tiered membership, how do you survive as a presbyterian elder? If you do, why are members allowed in who are not yet Calvinists, nor Sabbatarians (which is a belief and a practice), but not allow in those who do not yet see infant baptism in the bible? In other words, why the patience for arminians and non-Sabbatarians, and not baptists?

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  157. Jed, the two sacraments are indeed distinct and accomplishing different but related tasks, but how does that make them somehow unequal? Are you saying one is more vital (and therefore to err on it is weightier)? But I’m saying even as they distinct and accomplishing different but related tasks, they are also equal, thus the mirror error point.

    Todd, what’s standard Presbyterianism, that there should not be a two-tiered membership where the officers hold to the confession but not necessarily the members or that there should be? If the latter then perhaps American Presbyterianism but not British Presbyterianism (nor Continental Reformed). In these latter traditions, laity is expected to confess and practice the Reformed faith every bit as much as officers, though officers are expected to be able to be able navigate the finer points of doctrine whereas the laity are not.

    Petros, say something new. Yeah, I know, high opinion but low view. Eeeeeevangelical alert.

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  158. Todd, members have to be able to say the vows with integrity. Here’s the final one:

    5. Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church’s worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?

    Now, whether it is conceived formally or informally, a session must “discipline” regarding the errant view and practice of one of our two sacraments. The Session may not overlook this serious sin and may not let members decide who will and will not receive the sacraments; such is an abdication of God-given authority. And the potential member must take this vow in recognition of the authority of the session to discipline for the errant view and practice regarding one of the central marks of the church.

    Now if a church and a Baptist want to go through all that I guess it’s theoretically OK, but it makes a lot more sense to have the Baptist as a long-term visitor while working through the subject.

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  159. Zrim, Presbyterians don’t confess the confession and catechisms. Presbyterians do take a vow to submit to session. Baptists might have trouble doing that.

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  160. Muddy,

    Thanks, I don’t believe the vow needs to be read that way, but we’ve probably gone as far as we can on this. I come back from bible study and Mavs are down 3-0 and Bruce Jenner is a woman. Oh vey!

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  161. Todd, isn’t it about rebuild time down there in Dallas? Too bad you couldn’t have brought in a veteran point guard with a good playoff resume. And too bad you don’t have a gritty 3 like the Celts’ Crowder for a spark. But at least you have all your draft choices, right?

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  162. K A W H I. We’re going to abuse my little red ponies for another decade. The Land Walrus outplayed Griffin and Jordan. Timmay put it on cruise control. Danny Green made Chris Paul disappear. Bringing in the extra squirrels was apparently too effective, nobody cramped up from excessive PED use and made a spectacle of their ‘injury’ so they had an excuse to quit, again. Now for sunday.

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  163. Here’s the difference: using the church as a model, we find the Gospel Coalition wanting. Using the Gospel Coalition as a model, Petros finds churches wanting. And he’s not alone.

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  164. And do not the Gospel Superfriends make Local Pastor look mighty lame? Are your elders as cool as all those dudes? What if the local pastor and elders are even trying ape TKNYJPKDYCJMMD? Find another church, site, or preaching station.

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  165. Muddy, I’d put it slightly differently. It’s not about evaluating church vs parachurch and finding one or the other wanting. They are distinct. One can celebrate the church as the church, and still recognize that the Spirit blows where He wills, and that often He chooses to refresh the broader body of Christ with any variety of parachurch orgs. I suppose some churches find that phenomenon a bit threatening, while others might (should?) embrace it.

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  166. Petros, “threatening” doesn’t capture it. Emotive, anti-ecclesial, self-serving, lucre-seeking, ephemeral and flaky are better candidates.

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  167. Petros now using charismatic arguments to justify his position. Ah yes, I recall Paul setting up para-church organizations where ever he went. Oh wait….

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  168. keep the watered infant from the table until they do something
    i understand that

    but that this
    means that those who won’t water the infants
    are the “mirror error” of those who welcome the watered infants to the table?

    as many times as we read the zrim soundbite,
    it still makes no sense

    the sign effectually applies the thing signified, but not at the same time, except when it doesn’t….

    it’s kind of like a propitiation for all sinners who hear about it, except sometimes the propitiation does not propitiate

    not for all sinners, but for all the sinners for whom God does something to by means of sacrament

    for the elect, benefit,
    for the non-elect, curse

    but in any case, it’s God and not the men ordained by God doing it

    since it can kill you, it must not be us doing it, it must be God

    it turns out the Spurs can win big even without turning off the air conditioning, and even if the Spurs can’t take all the credit for Chris Paul turnovers

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  169. Muddy & CW, “lucre-seeking”, with affinity for conferences? Got White Horse Inn on your mind?

    “How we end our calendar year is crucial to the new opportunities that are within our reach. We invite you to be a part of our exciting work by participating in our year-end campaign. With each donation of $100 or more you can select an MP3 CD of your choice for you or a friend.”.

    Also, don’t forget to register now for the July 30-Aug 1 weekend. “Advanced Ticket Rate of $179 until May 31, June $199, July on $229.”

    What’s happening in the P&R world? Amish, has WHI gone pentecostal? Say it ain’t so!

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  170. Petros, so if there’s crime on my street I must approve of the crime on your street? That’s a tactic right up there with “look, your shoelace is untied.”

    As it is, there’s a lot of folk who treat conferences like they’re going down to travelin’ salvation show; dontcha know the real spiritual supercharge comes when throngs of people gather around the evangelical celebrity. The pastor becomes a spiritual janitor and the real means of grace are slighted. How can little sacraments compare with the bright lights of the parachurch?

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  171. Petros, churches aren’t “celebrated,” they’re joined by those duty bound to do so and not withdraw themselves since there is no salvation outside of her. There’s that Baptist ecclesiology again–wherever two or more are gathered in his name (rather than where the gospel is preached, the sacraments rightly administered, and discipline exercised).

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  172. MG, pack up the babies and grab the old ladies, ’cause everyone knows brother loves shows (hallelujah, hallay, hallay-loo-yah).

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  173. @ Petros:

    I’ve downloaded the linked article and am now giving it a second read-through.

    Coincidentally, DA Carson’s lead op-ed in that issue is titled

    “Why the Local Church is More Important Than TGC, White Horse Inn, 9Marks, and Maybe Even ETS”

    Just sayin’

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  174. Petros, if you’re not E-Free you might look into it–it’s singing your tune:

    A very few denominations have decided that they would allow both views of baptism to be taught and practiced within their denominations. The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) does this, for example, as a result of a “compromise” reached in 1950 when the denomination was formed from two different groups that had different views on baptism. The EFCA allows ordination for pastors who hold to believer’s baptism and for pastors who hold to infant baptism. And they allow into membership those who had been baptized as infants in a Christian church, without requiring them to be baptized as believers before joining the church. If some parents want to have their infant child baptized and the local pastor does not hold to infant baptism, the local church invites some other Evangelical Free Church pastor who holds to infant baptism to come and baptize the infant.

    http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2007/08/08/grudems-change-of-mind-regarding/

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  175. Da Spurs made Chris Paul queeet. We got 95 degrees and 95% humidity working. Time to fire….errr….layoff some squirrels.

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  176. OK, done.

    Salter’s paper has a lot of merits to it. Were I grading it, there would be a whole lot of “checks”:

    * Good research
    * Clear (mostly) argument
    * Very interesting rapprochement with Reformed takes on the covenant. In particular, I appreciated the “Abraham’s seed (singular)” discussion and the discussion of typology.

    Here’s where I remain unconvinced.

    * First and foremost, any discussion of internal/external, covenant community, and the New Covenant has to deal with apostasy front-and-center. Salter relegates this to a footnote and says “no time”, which means that he is bypassing the most serious objection to his central point.

    If this is the basis for his doctoral dissertation, one of the faculty is going to pounce on that issue.

    What about apostasy in the NT? John 15, 1 Tim 1.19 – 20, Heb 6, Rom 11.20 – 22, and possibly Col 1.23 (not to mention Acts 5.1 – 11) seem to indicate that someone can be “within the covenant community” as Salter puts it, and yet fall away.

    We can understand this in terms of visible/invisible, as the Reformed do. But Salter understands by contrast that all within the covenant community *cannot* fall away.

    Presumably, then, “the church” is “the invisible church” in his theory. But in that case, the verses on apostasy make no sense. That’s always been a central problem for the credo position.

    * Also, what distinguishes for Salter the New Covenant from the “broken” covenant is forgiveness. What’s up with David in Romans 4?

    * Likewise, Salter appears to be saying then that Abraham did not have security of salvation. I’m not on board.

    * Finally, and unrelated (maybe) is the discussion of “union”, which needs nuance. He says,

    Union with Christ consists of saving faith, justification, and Spirit-reception, signed and sealed in baptism. Such a relationship is a work of the Spirit and that work effects justification.

    and

    Christ’s covenantal mediatorship means covenantal infidelity is now impossible because in him the requirements are met and the curses exhausted. This is no mere legal fiction, but an experienced reality based upon the faith-union and incorporation into Christ as Paul develops in vv. 26–29.

    This flirts with Osianderism, in which justification depends both upon forensic declaration AND spirit-wrought transformation. In the standard Reformed treatment, adoption and reception of the Spirit are consequences of having been justified.

    His language of union may not be a significant problem, but on the other hand it might connect to the larger problem with the thesis that all in the covenant community are immune to apostasy.

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  177. sean,

    Kawhi looks like the real deal, but I always wonder if there is just something in San Antonio that makes people play above their potential. Danny Green was a nobody in Cleveland and a record setting shooter in San Antonio. I thought Boris Diaw, AKA Land Walrus, retired 9 years ago and somehow he is producing in the playoffs–again! Pops is a genius. Watching San Antonio is agonizing for the general public (outside of SA), but for hardcore basketball fans it’s a thing of beauty.

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  178. Petros – WHI hasn’t gone penticostal, but you have. According to your argumentation, if the spirit is leading by your subjective (like) opinion (man) then God must be behind it. That’s the same argument that charismatics trot out.

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  179. Pop is impressive. He reminds me of Jimmy Johnson in his ability to not only evaluate talent but then maximize it. It’s not easy. Some people need a pat on the back and others need a boot to their backside and often it’s the same guy just different opportunities. That takes effort. What was Auerbach’s line, about it being easy to lose but hard to win. Same ethic.

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  180. Sean, props to Pop. And speaking of coaching the player you have, Red didn’t have a simplistic old-school “my way or the highway” style. He looked at Bill Russell, knew he had a smart guy with a unique personality who would always perform when it mattered so “Russell could sip tea in the stands during scrimmages and leave the team for days at a time.” A coach can be firm without it all being about him. Think on that, Rick Carlisle.

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  181. Zrim,

    Jed, the two sacraments are indeed distinct and accomplishing different but related tasks, but how does that make them somehow unequal? Are you saying one is more vital (and therefore to err on it is weightier)? But I’m saying even as they distinct and accomplishing different but related tasks, they are also equal, thus the mirror error point.

    I get that you are more inclined to argue along the lines of broad-strokes, and to the degree that baptism and communion are similar, I grant your point. But, if you dial-in a little closer to the notion that paedocommunion and credobaptism are ¨mirror errors¨ you end up basically saying that they are identical, just in reverse. To argue this is to erase the distinction between not only the errant positions, but the sacraments being compared. Moreover, equating the errors, assumes that their consequences within the life of the believer and within the church is the same as well.

    So, beyond just saying they are mirror errors, can you elaborate as to why? If all you are trying to say is the errors are similar, fine – I am with you. But, if you are saying what I believe you are, that the errors are actually equivalent, I’d like to better understand why you would claim this.

    BTW – I am not saying that communion is greater than baptism, or vice versa. Nor, am I saying they are equivalent. All I can surmise from my understanding of Scripture and the Reformed confessions is that they are both sacraments, therefore both of vital importance. I can live with the ambiguity there.

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  182. @Zrim, amen to the E-Free’s. I think they’ve got it right. Your citation of the baptism bit that Prof Grudem (a prof of mine many moons ago) re-wrote in his Systematic Theology book captures the difficulties of the credo/paedo divide, difficulties I can live with.

    @Jeff Cagle, thanks for your review and comment of Salter’s paper. And, thanks for noting for the OL crowd Dr. Carson’s “Why the Local Church is More Important…” article. Hopefully some in the OL crowd will read it on the TGC (where I know so many already go to find recipes for their favorite Christian pies – emoticon). In Carson’s usual incisive manner, he affirms the criticality and distinctives of the local church without calling for the dissolution of parachurch orgs, contra much of the OL crowd. I think Carson is right on. I’ve never argued that parachurch orgs supersede the local church, but only that they are often a vehicle that God uses to serve the broader church by filling any variety of ministry niches.

    @Muddy, I’m happy to concede that there can be problems in parachurch ministries and in how certain devotees may overly elevate them. That doesn’t lead me to conclude they all should be dissolved, however.

    @Amish, if you have a principled view that all parachurch orgs – including WHI – are de facto ‘bad’ and should all be dissolved, that’s fine. Please send your rationale for that to both Dr. Horton and Dr. Carson so they can be enlightened.

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  183. Jed, well the WCF only speaks of “a great sin” twice: once in relation to neglecting baptism for children of believers and another to letting the ignorant to the table. That would seem to suggest the errors are equivalent. We only have two. To neglect baptism is to keep one from entering into the kingdom of God, and to rush to the table is to invite judgment. How these are mirrors errors seems self-evident.

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  184. Petros, so as Grudem points out, you can live with contradiction and giving up one’s view on the proper nature of baptism:

    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).

    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. It is saying that infant baptism really is valid baptism! But then how could anyone who holds to this position tell anyone who had been baptized as an infant that he or she still needed to be baptized as a believer

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  185. Zrim:
    the WCF only speaks of “a great sin” twice
    to neglect baptism is to keep one from entering into the kingdom of God

    isn’t the Lord in charge of these things

    giviing thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col 1:12-14

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  186. He is the One who informs us of ‘great sin’ 1 Cor 6:9-10; Eph 5:5; Gal 4:19-21, etc and though we do not want to sin, there is only one unpardonable (Matt 12:31)

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  187. Zrim, yes, I can live with those difficulties, because I don’t think Scripture makes the essence of the issue into a “great sin”, or any other kind of sin, and hence there are limits on how much it’s prudent for believers to make it into a divisive issue. The principles in Romans 14 are apt.

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  188. Salter— an experienced reality based upon the faith-union and incorporation into Christ as Paul develops in vv. 26–29.

    Jeff–This flirts with Osianderism

    Mark Mcculley—I agree with Jeff. Even though I argue that the new covenant is not like the Abrahamic covenant (not simply different from the Mosaic), my argument is based on thinking that all the members in different covenants receive what is promised in those different covenants. Different covenants, different laws. Different covenants, different promises. I agree with Jeff because the promise of the new covenant is not about some new ability for covenant members to keep the new covenant, but about Christ’s death having been for all the imputed sins of all those who will be in the new covenant. The Lord’s Supper is THE sign of the new covenant, and it’s about Christ’s death and resurrection (and coming) and NOT about our new ability.

    Jed asks Zrim—a little closer to the notion that paedocommunion and credobaptism are ¨mirror errors¨ you end up basically saying that they are identical, just in reverse. To argue this is to erase the distinction between not only the errant positions, but the sacraments being compared. Moreover, equating the errors, assumes that their consequences within the life of the believer and within the church is the same as well.

    mark mcculley—not that I would ever need to speak for Zrim, but I think he was saying that the mainline tradition is

    infant water, not infant supper

    then saying that the “mirror” error involves saying
    if water, then supper
    with the FV saying—-water, therefore supper
    and the baptists saying—-no supper, therefore no water

    but of course I would argue the “twin error” is infant water

    classic Reformed—infant water, no Supper
    FV—infant water, then Supper

    the error in common is “infant water”
    solution—no infant water

    all that said, I very much agree with Zrim that for “baptists” to allow for infant water to count as condition for supper or membership is to give up the baptist definition of water

    As I would respect paedos like dgh more if they actually had confessional membership that knew how to refuse people (and if their sacrament administrators actually talked about election and not only covenant), I think Zrim is being respectful to credos who don’t define the water in order to fit the situation

    I like to see the Spurs play well, but clipper failures only add to the fun

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  189. a., yes, but he hasn’t keep them to himself but given the keys of the kingdom to his overseers–the visible church matters. Ecclesiology is at play in this discussion, i.e the invisible-triumphant church and the visible-militant church.

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  190. Marky McMark, thanks. An instance of a PB and CB having more ironically in common than with some PBs.

    ps PBs are also in some sense CBs–instead of narrowing the field to just professing adults, we expand baptism by baptizing professing adults and their chidlren, so why do you guys get the “baptist” moniker?

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  191. Twin errors, McM?

    That would be one, the failure to understand the thrust of Romans; that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant Heb. 8 notwithstanding in that new refers to administration, not substance.

    Two, if circumcision is the seal of the righteousness of faith of our father in the faith, Abraham as per Rom. 4:11, and it was applied to all the male seed of his household in Gen. 17:13,23 – even unbelieving, we are not told one way or another – to consider infant baptism as only “infant water”, is a non sequitur.

    IOW if you are trying to persuade anyone of CB and the corresponding errors of PB, a more substantive argument is required.

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  192. There are plenty of Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist churches in Dayton, Ohio, where parents could have an infant child baptized.

    But one local couple wanted Rodney Kennedy to baptize their 7-month-old son, even though they knew there was one hurdle to overcome: Kennedy is pastor at First Baptist Church in Dayton.

    And Baptists — both generally and specifically — do not baptize infants.

    “We knew that asking Rod, he might say no,” said Lucas, the boy’s father who requested only his first name be used in this article.

    But Kennedy did not say no, and during worship on Sunday, April 19, he conducted his and his church’s first-ever infant baptism.

    “And the congregation burst into applause,” Kennedy told Baptist News Global. “And they don’t applaud much.”

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  193. Zrim, on the “we are credos” also, 1 you can’t get credit as long as you keep saying that the infant water is the better picture of sovereign grace, because that implies you have two kinds of water. To be consistent with the “we have what you have plus more” thing, you are going to first stop saying that infant water is better picture of grace. Maybe you don’t do that, but I often hear it,

    2. to the extent that you claim to be more “catholic” ( our way plus also your way), you have less choice for the “expansion” of credo water, because this locks you into having to accept the water of “churches without all the marks” (Romanists, baptists). But when you learn to say that Arminian and Romanist water mean nothing, then the way opens up for the end of Christendom and for the recognition that every human is born ungodly, with none presumed to have already been effectually called.

    3. To the extent paedos have success, there would be no more sinners who did not get the water as infants, but you have already retreated to making charitable judgments based on the profession of parents (something not done in the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants)

    Maybe it’s something like saying “we allow for conscientious objectors also”, where war is the ordinary way to go, but the “weaker brothers” are patronized. Have it your way, as long as you first agree that the normal way is our way…..

    Bob, not my role as guest on this blog to make the case here that I make elsewhere. I was only trying to respond to the idea that the baptist practice is like the federal vision idea. Federal visionists are still, at the end of the day, paedos.

    Hebrews 8 does not compare administrations of one covenant. It compares the Mosaic covenant and the new covenant. It is not directly talking about the covenant of circumcision God cut with Abraham. But in no way does Hebrews 8 teach that the new covenant is the Abrahamic covenant. Nor does the context teach that the covenants being compared are administrations of “one covenant of grace. If you want to look together at texts which talk about God’s promises to Abraham, that would be something worth doing. God does not promise those in the new covenant that they will be the father of many nations. Nor does God promise those in the new covenant that one of their seed will be Christ. The new covenant is with Christ and His elect.

    Circumcision was not a seal to Abraham’s children that God would imputed to them the righteousness God has imputed to Abraham. Abraham was promised more than justification, and Abraham’s children were not promised all that Abraham was promised. But little details like this don’t come up if you just say “the promise” and “the covenant”.

    Hebrews 8: 5 These serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For God said, Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain. 6 But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second one.

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  194. the group which professes to be a baptist church
    should take the baptist name down
    not when they start doing infants
    but when they start accepting members who have only the infant water

    and if that’s a domino theory
    i will slide down the slippery slope

    the mennonite churches which put up american flags
    should have taken the “mennonite” out of their name
    some time before that time
    probably around the time they became zionists who would kill for
    those who are only once-born children of Abraham

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  195. MMC, not a better picture of grace but a darn good one—God condescends to sinners who are completely helpless to do for themselves and initiates them into his covenant, the way a mother feeds a hungry infant or a shepherd makes his sheep lie down in green pastures.

    Not more catholic but catholic—P&R accept Roman and Baptist baptisms based on the Trinitarian formula, not the marks of the church. To my knowledge, the favor isn’t returned by Baptists who base it on neither but only profession.

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  196. I posted it less to be profound and more because it was funny.

    But I wonder whether we ought to applaud. He seems to want to keep his office but deny the teachings that attend it, which was what sank the PCUSA. Better to become Presby then baptize babies.

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  197. MG sats: “As it is, there’s a lot of folk who treat conferences like they’re going down to travelin’ salvation show; dontcha know the real spiritual supercharge comes when throngs of people gather around the evangelical celebrity. The pastor becomes a spiritual janitor and the real means of grace are slighted. How can little sacraments compare with the bright lights of the parachurch?”
    Muddy, we actually agree again. I’m not real big on conferences.

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  198. Jeff, is that like a Republican who’s for bigger government and more taxes or a Catholic who denies papal authority?

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  199. McM
    Once again assertions do not an argument make.
    If WCF 1:9 says the clearer passages interpret the darker I await your legerdemainic deconstruction of Romans compared to Heb. 8.
    If that sounds snarky, well, consider that your triumphalism re. “watering infants” comes across as on par with the likes of our romanist combox buddies, who specialize in “name it and claim it”.
    cheers

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  200. I wonder if this would help with the question of what to do with Baptists:

    In words that may be interpreted to rebut Catholic priests who refuse to baptize children of same-sex couples, Pope Francis has said that priests should not refuse baptism to anyone who asks for the sacrament.

    Speaking in a homily Sunday for the ordination of 19 new priests for the diocese of Rome, Francis told the new ministers: “With baptism, you unite the new faithful to the People of God. It is never necessary to refuse baptism to someone who asks for it!”

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  201. bob s–not good enough to say “not good enough”. Point out the clear errors in my reading of Romans 4.

    mcmark: God does not promise those in the new covenant that they will be the father of many nations. Nor does God promise those in the new covenant that one of their seed will be Christ. The new covenant is with Christ and His elect. Circumcision was not a seal to Abraham’s children that God would impute to THEM the righteousness God has imputed to Abraham. Abraham was promised more than justification, and Abraham’s children were not promised all that Abraham was promised.

    Romans 4: 9 Is this blessing (sins forgiven) only for the circumcised, then? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say, Faith was credited to Abraham unto righteousness.10 In what way then was righteousness credited—while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. 11 And Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that HE HAD by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness will be credited to them also. 12 And ABRAHAM BECAME the father of the circumcised, who are not only circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised. 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that HE WOULD INHERIT THE WORLD was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith

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  202. McM
    The clear errors in your reading of Rom. 4?
    Basically you don’t read it, but argue based on your assertions about Heb. 8 and the new covenant, that the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which A had, doesn’t mean the same thing for A’s seed, to which it is applied, as it does for A.

    And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
    And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
    And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
    This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. Gen. 17:7-10

    Nobody denies that there are temporal earthly and national aspects to that covenant, but they were accidental, not of the substance. “I will be their God”, not just A’s.
    Hebrews is all about the fulfillment/nullification of the ceremonial law which was of the substance of the legal Mosaic administration, but not of the underlying covenant of grace.

    P&R = one CoG, different dispensations
    Baptist = the dispensations are different covenants.
    Best I can tell that is your argument.

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  203. Zrim,

    Sorry for the delays, I’ve been busy shopping for hats with Jason and Bryan. Look, I get your point – paedocommunion and credobaptism are comparable errors – and per your love for the broad-brush argument over using something more finely pointed, I think the comparison is reasonable and warranted. But to call them mirror errors pushes the assertion into a non sequitur without much more detailed defense. Saying that WCF calls both ¨grave sins¨ points to the errant nature of the acts, not necessarily to their equality or effects.

    All to say, I get what you are saying, basically agree, but wouldn’t take it as far as you would. At the end of the day, I can live with that.

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  204. Thanks, Jed. I’ll take “reasonable and warranted” (and leave the finely pointed details to the experts).

    ps I hope you and Jason bought your hats and weren’t looting them under the righteous guise of civil disobedience.

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  205. David Gordon—-John Murray jettisoned the notion of distinctions of kind between the covenants. He wrote that was not “any reason for construing the Mosaic covenant in terms different from those of the Abrahamic.” Murray believed that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer. I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when He cursed the nation as when He blessed it.

    David Gordon—“The first generation of the magisterial Reformers would have emphasized discontinuity; they believed that Rome retained too much continuity with the levitical aspects of the Sinai administration. But the Auburn theology cannot describe covenant theology without reference to dispensationalism, despite the historical reality that covenant theology was here for several centuries before dispensationalism appeared. My own way of discerning whether a person really has an understanding of covenant theology is to see whether he can describe it without reference to dispensationalism.”

    mcmark: Which is to say that David Gordon is not a baptist or a “dispensationalist”, but nevertheless knows not only that the Mosaic covenant is different from the Abrahamic covenant but knows also that the Abrahamic covenant is different from the new covenant.

    David Gordon—I am less happy with is the language of “the covenant of grace”, because this is a genuinely unbiblical use of biblical language. Biblically, covenant is always a historic arrangement, inaugurated in space and time. Once covenant refers to an over-arching divine decree or purpose to redeem the elect in Christ, confusion Is sure to follow….When Paul and the other NT writers use the word covenant, there is almost always an immediate contextual clue to which biblical covenant is being referred to, such as “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8) The New Testament writers were not mono-covenantal regarding the Old Testament (see Rom 9:4, Eph 2:12; Gal 4:24).”

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  206. Paul Helm—They used for their own confessions the language of the magistrates and bishops of the persecuting Church of England. (And the same would have been true, I reckon, had the Parliament of the 1640’s had had its way, and its anti-blasphemy legislation but into practice, they had been on the receiving end of Westminster Confession-style persecution. But Cromwell intervened.) I dare say that if we studied the confessional history of the Protestant Church of England we would find many other such ‘borrowings’. Why was this? Was it because these lower-class, uneducated non-conformists could not think for themselves? No, obviously not. Many of their ministers had been educated. And they were persecuted and discriminated against precisely because they thought for themselves. http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2015/05/baptists-and-early-church.html

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  207. Re: John Murray:

    Today in OPC History

    History Image
    May 8

    John Murray

    On May 8, 1975, Orthodox Presbyterian minister John Murray died in Bonar Bridge, Scotland, the town where he was born on October 14, 1898.

    Long-time professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary, where he taught from 1930 to 1967, Murray was also an active Orthodox Presbyterian churchman. He attended meetings of the Presbytery of New York and New England whenever possible, and he served on several General Assembly committees, including the Committee on Foreign Missions, the Committee on Local Evangelism, the Committee on Texts and Proof Texts to the Westminster Standards, and the Committee to Revise the Form of Government and Book of Discipline. In 1947, along with William Young, he presented a Minority Report of the Committee on Song in Public Worship, where he argued that the Psalter was the exclusive hymnbook for the New Testament church. His most popular book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (1955), began as articles published in the Presbyterian Guardian, where he was a frequent contributor.

    The Banner of Truth described Murray’s funeral in this way:

    The dignity and simplicity of the service, in true Reformation style, was just as Professor Murray would have desired. John Murray had gone forth from this small community to become one of the world’s leading theologians. Having finished his course and kept the faith, it now seemed fitting that the small cemetery on the shores of the Kyles of Scotland should contain the remains of this worthy servant of Christ until the day break and the shadows flee away.
    Homepage Picture: John Murray

    Picture: John Murray and Cornelius Van Til

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  208. Baptizing babies can get you into a heap of trouble or pad statistics:

    (RNS) The sprinkling-style baptism of a Dayton, Ohio, infant—a scene heartwarming and commonplace for Catholics and many mainline Protestants—is touching off accusations of doctrinal heresy in the evangelical world.

    In April, an influential American Baptist Churches USA pastor performed the rite, which most Baptists believe is reserved for Christians who are able to make a mature confession of faith. Although there are dozens of Baptist denominations in the U.S., the news made waves among those who know Baptist teachings.

    Before long, a Southern Baptist seminary president compared the notion of Baptists baptizing infants to vegetarians eating steak.

    But while denominations squabble about doctrine, the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, routinely immerses children age five and younger. A task force report based on 2012 figures said that age group was the only one seeing growth in numbers of baptisms, although a top researcher in the denomination said that’s no longer the case.

    In light of new survey data showing a decline in the number of self-professing Christians, some have wondered whether denominational heads are urging younger baptisms as a way to provide a membership boost.

    Others discounted that theory.

    “There’s pressure to go downward in age because parents are kind of convinced that their kids are understanding it earlier, and it’s easier to baptize kids,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “I don’t think it is a preservationist instinct. . . . It’s more of a precociousness instinct.”

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  209. https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/how-presbyterianism-solves-everything-or-not/

    As long as you water infants, you can stay in the bounds of the opc, no matter what you might say about Christ’s presence being before justification.

    Garcia complains that if God’s imputation is before “sanctification” and results in “sanctification”, then this means that we have included “sanctification” into “justification” and changed the meaning of “justification”. But if that were true, Garcia putting “union” (personal presence) before justification so that “union” results in justification—– his priority would mean that he includes “sanctification” into “union” and changes the meaning of “union”.

    Garcia: “If we argue, with CJPM, that justification is the cause of sanctification, then we attribute to justification a generative, transformational quality (in that sanctification is generated or produced by justification) and thus compromise the purely forensic character of justification, its nature as a declarative act rather than the beginning of a work.”

    DVD— We do not describe justification as containing within itself a generative, transformational power that accomplishes the work of sanctification by its own virtue. Rather, we defend the idea that good works are the fruits of justifying faith and that in the ordo salutis justification has a certain priority to sanctification

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