Thursday, March 19, 2009

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Together . . . Against a Conservative Evangelical

There's been a bit of a flare-up in the blogosphere today over Mark Dever's comment about the sin inherent to the practice of paedo-baptism. He writes:
I have many dear paedo-baptists friends from whom I have learned much. Yet I see their practice as a sinful (though sincere) error from which God protects them by allowing for inconsistency in their doctrinal system, just as he graciously protects me from consistency with my own errors.
Michael Bird, an evangelical professor at a Scottish theological college, counters:
[T]o label a divergent theological view which is a non-essential to the faith "sinful" is theologically irresponsible, pastorally insensitive, and ecclesially arrogant.
Dever responds with a bit of historical perspective and a more fully developed argument:
This does not cause me to doubt the sincerity of my reformed paedobaptist brethren, nor even their judgment in general. It is simply that on this point they've got it wrong, and their error, involving as it does a requiring of something Scripture does not require (infant baptism), and the consequence of a denying of an action Scripture does require (believers baptism) is sinful (though unintentionally so).
Bird then replies with an argument that offers several examples of theological differences that should not lead us to the conclusion that those who differ with us are wrong. I won't speak for Dever, but I would not consider someone who disagreed with me over the Millennium or open/closed communion to be in sin. And if anyone can find documentation of Dever doing that, I'd be more than a little surprised.

That's a long introduction, but what makes this conversation interesting is that Bird's conclusions seem similar to those I've heard from various fundamentalist leaders. I've heard two or three interact with Dever on this point, and each of them would agree with Bird that a convictional paedobaptist is not "in sin." I'm not going to go into detail on private conversations, but you can listen in on part of one in the last 30 minutes or so of this interview with Mark Minnick.

I'm not entirely sure why we have this odd juxtaposition of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Together against Dever. I'm not familiar with Bird and won't try to get inside his head. A broader atheological evangelicalism would no doubt demonstrate a knee-jerk reaction against calling much of anything sin. But I certainly would not call Minnick and others atheological (and I don't expect that Bird is either). I wonder if the fundamentalist mindset isn't equipped to process maintaining fellowship and cooperation with people who are in ongoing, unrepentant—albeit unwitting—sin.

The danger with the Bird-Minnick approach is what happens if we conclude that we can't consider someone to be in sin if his errant beliefs and associated disobedient actions are sincerely held and practiced, or if that particular theological conclusion seems less clear than another.

Here's what I mean. What if a person who professes to believe the gospel sincerely concludes that Scripture teaches that women can be pastors? Or that God doesn't know the future since the future doesn't exist yet? Or that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world—all of it—therefore, no one deserves God's wrath? Those are complex issues. They might even seem less clear to some people than when people should be baptized. After all, isn't it a bit myopic to suggest that what's clear to me should be just as clear to you?

So do varying levels of clarity mean we shouldn't consider an egalitarian or an open theist or a universalist to be teaching error—even in sin? Not at all. At least not in my opinion. If you disagree, I have a question: What's the qualitative difference between your hermeneutic of humility and Brian McLaren's?

It cuts both ways. I certainly don't mind if Minnick considers me to be in error and propagating sin because I don't believe women are required to wear head coverings in church. (Though it is nice to know that there's one sin in the world that I can never personally commit.)

Some of these differences—these errors and sins—will limit our fellowship. Perhaps all of them will in some way. Sin does that. But at the end of the day, aren't we all sinners in some way that may be unknown to us? Ongoing, unrepentant, (albeit unwitting) sinners. I'm pretty sure I am.

And that is what you get when you sit down to blog while you're watching March Madness.

61 comments:

David Crabb said...

Ben, per our conversation, I still think this was a better title:"Dever Receives Honorary FBF Membership After Paedobaptist Comments (Rod Bell to speak at CHBC in June)."

Good to spend some time with the CHBC brothers this weekend. Thanks again for the interaction.

Ben said...

David, if only you'd e-mailed me an hour earlier, I might've gone that direction. Who knows?

Greg Linscott said...

I just want to know if Dever is going to start employing the term "disobedient brethren."

Steve Brower said...

Ben,

I appreciate the conversation, thanks for pointing it out. What I find interesting is the surprise Dever expresses at the horror which Bird expresses that Dever would call paedobaptism sin. Is it possible that Dever has unwittingly mislead these evangelicals into thinking that any cooperation with them was implicit acceptance of all of their doctrine? Interesting. The fact that Dever has no problem working together with "sinners" is not the news in my book, it is that these "sinners" are surprised that he considers them so.

Also, you stated, "I wonder if the fundamentalist mindset isn't equipped to process maintaining fellowship and cooperation with people who are in ongoing, unrepentant—albeit unwitting—sin." My question would be, "I wonder if the evangelical mindset isn't equipped to process maintaining fellowship and cooperation with people who believe that you are involved in ongoing, unrepentant-albeit unwitting-sin."

Ben said...

Hey Steve,

As this conversation demonstrates, clearly some "evangelicals" can process it. Maybe some fundamentalists can too, and that just hasn't been part of my experience yet. Here's an open invitation to be the first!

Ben said...

Steve,

By the way, here's a good example of such a conversation among evangelicals.

Steve Brower said...

Thanks for the further link. Further, I am certain that I am truly not the first...nor do I think you really believe that I would be! Separation is not an all or nothing thing.

Ben said...

Steve,

I honestly don't know. I do know of fundamentalist Baptists who wouldn't have any fellowship with paedobaptists. I know of at least one fundamental Baptist who lost a speaking engagement because of fellowship with paedos. I don't know of any who think paedobaptism is sin but would still maintain fellowship with paedos. That's not what I would have expected, just what I've observed to this point.

Don Johnson said...

Ben, I'm not sure it is legitimate to lump Minnick's remarks out of context in with Bird's arguments. If you were to ask Minnick what he thought of Dever's article, you may or may not find him in agreement, regardless of his comments in the context of Dever's interview last year. That is, unless Dever made the same "It's sin" comment in the interview. I don't recall him making that statement at that time.

So... just think your headline is a little misleading.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ben said...

Don,

It's not misleading. As I mentioned, I've had this specific conversation two or three times with fundamentalist thinkers, and a friend reminded me via e-mail this morning of another protracted conversation.

Concerning the Minnick interview, Dever brings up paedos at least three times and clearly refers to them as disobedient to God's commands. Minnick avoids a clear statement on that disobedience the first three times, but he returns to that conversation on his own. At that point, he uses precisely the same argument that Bird does in denying paedobaptism is sin because you can have "different interpretations of what baptism is."

D.M. Doran said...

FWIW, I agree with Dever, yet I've never advocated a total separation over this. I certainly believe it does limit our ability to fellowship and cooperate (as does Dever, since he wouldn't admit them to the Lord's Table).

My sense is that you're lumping things together oddly. Most of fundamentalism has been inter-denominational, so they won't be inclined to pass a judgment like Dever's due to that heritage. BTW, the FBF has had Paisley speak, so I don't think you pegged that either. IOW, I doubt that the leaders there would agree with Dever on this point (at least not uniformly), so they probably wouldn't be granting a membership for this statement.

Ben said...

DMD,

The interesting question concerning the FBF would be whether the leadership considered Paisley to be in sin. I would guess they didn't, or that they never weighed the question.

I agree with your first paragraph, though fundamentalism's interdenominationalism has dropped off steadily over time, as I see it. Part of that may be the shrinking of its Methodist and Presbyterian segments. I suspect another part is the shifting emphasis of separation among Baptists. In other words, it's difficult for me to imagine an early 20th century Baptist fundamentalist suggesting that his fundamentalist, covenant, Presbyterian brethren were a severe threat to the Baptist position..

Chris Anderson said...

I was going to chime in with essentially the same point as DMD: that there's really nothing to the fact that Bird and Minnick (for example) agree on this. Some fundamentalists and evangelicals will agree with Dever; some will agree with Bird. I don't think one's "movement" has much to do with it.

Ben said...

DMD and Chris,

Let's assume for sake of a discussion with broader implications that you're right and that movement mindsets and allegiances are irrelevant. I'm wondering what you would think about the two paragraphs in my argument that are shape my ultimate conclusion. Here they are:

"Here's what I mean. What if a person who professes to believe the gospel sincerely concludes that Scripture teaches that women can be pastors? Or that God doesn't know the future since the future doesn't exist yet? Or that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world—all of it—therefore, no one deserves God's wrath? Those are complex issues. They might even seem less clear to some people than when people should be baptized. After all, isn't it a bit myopic to suggest that what's clear to me should be just as clear to you?

"So do varying levels of clarity mean we shouldn't consider an egalitarian or an open theist or a universalist to be teaching error—even in sin? Not at all. At least not in my opinion. If you disagree, I have a question: What's the qualitative difference between your hermeneutic of humility and Brian McLaren's?"

Would you agree or disagree with what I'm driving at?

Michael said...

Ironically, it's actually the denial of infant baptism that is sinful under Dever's argument in the rebuttal.

Chris Anderson said...

I'm not offering a solution or claiming perfect consistency, Ben. I'm just saying that the way you've framed the discussion (by the title of your post) assumes that it's a movement thing. It's not. Conservative evangelicals (like Rick Phillips) are disagreeing with conservative evangelicals.

Per your question, I'd be hesitant to pursue your reasoning about "humble orthodoxy" too far, e.g. that tolerance in one area is a "slippery slope" or somehow analogous to tolerance in every area. There's obviously a need to have a triage understanding by which you determine things that are essential for fellowship and things that aren't. We won't agree all the time about what those things are, but we have to make discerning calls.

You could look at this entirely differently: Perhaps Dever's sharing his pulpit with people (like Lig Duncan) he believes are in sinful error makes fundamentalists' having a KJV-only guy (with whom they disagree) preach not look so hideous after all. Sometimes it's just more complicated than we're willing to admit.

(Ducking) :)

D. M. Doran said...

Ben,

My brain batteries must be running low today because I am having a hard time getting your point. Or perhaps better, understanding the relevance of your point to Dever's position (which is slightly softer than my own).

I am not sure I am even close to answering what your asking, but I'd simply say that everybody has to draw a line at some point which distinguishes for them the difference between a tolerable disagreement over interpretation and an intolerable position. Even the guys who deny the essential vs. non-essential mantra acknowledge that not every interpretive disagreement demands separation (unless I've misunderstood, e.g., Kent B). So, the real issues seem to be: (1) what constitutes a line-drawing issue, and (2) where do we draw those lines.

I don't think good intentions settle anything. I do think that the levels of interaction concept does mean that lines might show up in different places depending on the kind/level of interaction. Schools aren't churches, so that affects the decision making process.

Ben said...

Chris,

I think my title does the opposite of what you suggest. It proves its not a movement thing since people in different movements reach the same conclusion. Though as I note, the may not be getting to that conclusion for the same reasons.

I agree with the need for triage in cooperation. But I think Dever, Minnick, and Bird agree on that. They disagree on whether the differences that create the need for triage can be the product of sin (at least concerning infant baptism). And I think McLaren's mindset (including that which led him to say we need a moratorium on saying homosexuality is sin) is only qualitatively different from the Minnick/Bird position.

Anonymous said...

Most of this discussion seems to miss the point -- unless I'm missing the point, which is quite likely.

Anyway. Dever clearly admits that no one has a completely sinless position/existence -- even when making an honest effort to do so. Do those arguing with Dever deny that? If not, then what's the problem?

After saying that he sees the paedo position as sinful Dever says, "just as [God] graciously protects me from consistency with my own errors." Dever admits that he has sinful positions too! The disagreement is just about where the sin is -- not whether there is sin.

Furthermore, Dever is merely saying from the Baptist perspective what the Westminster Confession says from the paedobaptist perspective. The Westminster Divines wrote (Chap XXVIII): "Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized. Although it be a great sin to condemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseperably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated . . ."

The church of Scotland and American Presbyterians have long subscribed to the WC which, right there, says the baptist approach to baptism is a GREAT sin.

Keith

Don Johnson said...

Ben, I say you are misleading in your title because you are implying that Evangelicals and Fundamentalists jointly are reacting to Dever's article. That is not the case.

It seems your subsequent discussion with Dave and Chris bolsters my point.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

I like Ben bringing this up. It reinforces why not to be one of these evangelicals. Ben takes it one step further and I thought it was a good catch (though I can see how it justifies your own associations, Ben), that being, the connection to the Dever-Minnick conversation. The proceeding conversation reinforces why not to be a fundamentalist either.

I had read the Dever article when it was linked elsewhere and latched onto his calling paedobaptism, "sin." He had already said that he wouldn't allow the paedobaptist at the Lord's Table.

Does anyone else not see the mind-boggling contradictions with all of this? How can we hold two contradictory beliefs? God cannot deny Himself, so something IS wrong.

God doesn't fellowship with sin. We are to be holy as He is holy. We shouldn't fellowship with sin. If paedobaptism is sin, we shouldn't fellowship with paedobaptists. Isn't this how simple it is? But yet, we want to fellowship with them, so we overlook the sin. And for what reason? Is it unity? Could it be unity? Is that what unity is?

Instead what we have invented are degrees of disobedience it seems, justified by finger-pointing. "Paisley preaches with these guys"....and so on.

We should have an explanation that rings true with all of Scripture interpreted in its context.

Kent Brandenburg said...

One more thing. Chris, I think what you're saying, and you tell me if I'm wrong, that KJV onlyism is a sin like paedobaptism is a sin. I'm not upset at you at all, because I'm going to assume that you think it is a sin, and you are about pleasing God. OK. He hates sin. Since I'm KJVO, that would mean I'm sinning. And I am unrepentant of it. I'm hindering my own fellowship with God in your opinion, I would think. This is where you can be helpful to me. How is it that KJV onlyism is sin? I'm not attempting to turn this into a KJV thread---you brought it up. I won't even elaborate further than asking the question. But based on Scripture, what exactly is the sin in KJV onlyism? When I say KJVO, I mean that I use only the KJV in the English based upon the criteria of the underlying text and the translation philosophy.

Thank you.

Chris Anderson said...

Hi, Kent. I'm not biting. Call me rude. Sorry.

Chris Anderson said...

Oops. One more thing (which I suppose is a rhetorical question):

Do you *really* believe that any sort of disobedience prohibits fellowship?

Wow.

Anonymous said...

Kent, the whole point is -- if we cannot fellowship with sinners, then we can't fellowship with anyone. Unless of course you think you are sinless and you know someone else who is sinless.

Keith

Kent Brandenburg said...

Chris,

Is disobedience to (transgression of) scripture (God) sin?

I don't understand your "wow" at the end. "Wow," like good, "wow, that's good." Or "Wow," like stupid, "wow, that's stupid."

Did God kill Uzzah? Yes. Wow.

Can you tell what I mean by "wow"?

Chris Anderson said...

"Wow" means "Who in the world can you fellowship with?" Besides Jesus, I mean.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Chris,

I've noticed that you seem to present yourself as a new kind of fundamentalist. You might have positions that differ from the old, but the style doesn't seem that much different.

You bring up the KJVO in this context. If you can't answer a simple question about it, then it is just a cheap shot, I guess. You use the word "hideous." If it is hideous, then the question should be easy to answer.

You tell me: "Call me rude." Question: "Are you rude?" Do you think you're rude? Is that something that you're proud of? I wouldn't think so, so why do you want me to "call you rude." And I'll assume that "sorry" is just a sarcastic expression at the end.

And then you don't answer the question, but you ask a rhetorical question with a "wow" at the end. And that's it. All rhetoric. Nothing scriptural. So I ask you a question ["Is disobedience to (transgression of) scripture (God) sin?"], which again, you don't answer.

I'll answer it for you. You say, 'yes, disobedience is sin.' So in answer to your question, no, I don't fellowship with those in unrepentant, disobedience. That fits the idea of fellowship in Scripture (consider 1 John). You can tell me where I'm wrong, Chris. I would be glad for that. But in the meantime, in the spirit of our conversation, "Chris, do you *really* stay in fellowship with those in unrepentant sin?"

And Keith,

Jesus ate with sinners. Does it say anywhere in the Bible that He "fellowshiped" with them? "Fellowship" is a technical term for only those in Christ. koinonia. Communion = koinonia. The words matter. We're sanctified by them, not by our opinions. See Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 10, 2 Corinthians 6, among other places.

Kevin said...

Ben,

For what it's worth, Dever has articulated precisely the position that I have been advocating for years. In fact, I wrote about this back when Piper wanted Bethlehem to admit unbaptized members, and employed much the same argument that Dever is employing here. Please don't think that fundamentalists have been silent on this issue.

Yes, I think that pedobaptists are sinning when they sprinkle their babies. By the same token, I would expect them to think that I am sinning when I refuse to apply water to the infant children of church members. If we each take this matter seriously, there will be levels of fellowship that are denied to us (church membership and leadership in particular).

But not every area of Christian fellowship is affected by this particular sin. We ought not to separate where fellowship actually exists (i.e., where we hold the Faith in common). So I am grateful to hold a pedobaptist Presbyterian among the dearest of my Christian friends and confidants.

In holding this position, I am faithfully reflecting the fundamentalism in which I was reared. These are distinctions to which I was first exposed by other fundamentalists. They may not be in the fundamentalist crowd to which you have been exposed (I don't know), but I think that they do represent the mainstream of fundamentalist thought.

Chris Anderson said...

Kent,

I apologize for the sarcasm.

I do think your reasoning is mistaken and virtually impossible to apply. It would result in a ridiculous standard of perfection for fellowship, especially because you (ill-advisedly, I think) reject the motion of "degrees of disobedience." Both Testaments acknowledge that there are sins which are indeed more grievous than others and have more grievous consequences.

As for the KJV issue, I'm assuming we'll get nowhere so I'm not interested in pursuing it here. I should have said so more kindly. In short, I do think your position is erroneous--potentially sinfully so, depending on how it represents/affects your bibliology and on your spirit about it. I think you're in error on the lordship salvation issue, as well--again, probably sinfully so if it means that you present the gospel in an unbiblical fashion. I hope that helps clarify my thinking.

You apparently misunderstood my point about the KJV. I was referring to the fact that BJU is being criticized for having a KJVO speaker at Bible Conference, whereas Dever is generally applauded for his catholicity of spirit for having people with whom he has serious (even sinful) interpretational differences speak for him. I wasn't saying that either is right or wrong to do so, though, the more I think about it, both should be able to have a speaker with whom they disagree on some issues without it reflecting on their own doctrinal positions, which have been clearly explained). My point was simply that platform fellowship is complicated, for everybody. Ask Don. :) Anyway, I wasn't intentionally taking a cheap shot at the KJVO position, though I think it's erroneous. Quite the opposite, in fact. I was suggesting that making it a hindrance to fellowship isn't necessarily a slam dunk.

With that, I'll plan on checking out.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Chris,

That wasn't so hard really, I think, for you. So thanks. And it's fine for you not to go any further. You didn't quite answer my questions, but you said enough for me. We don't agree. I believe that you go further than scripture in that you take degrees of punishment and make that mean that we apply separation differently. Not only do we not have a basis for what you're saying, but the Bible says otherwise. We should use separation passages to define how we separate rather than extrapolate on passages that say nothing about it. I do know why it is that people have to come up with this new doctrine, but I'm not going to bring it up here. I talk about it plenty on my own blog.

You brought in Lordship salvation, and that sort of opened a can of worms, because I don't know what you believe on that. And I don't know if you know what I believe. For anyone reading, I don't do the straw-man frontloading of works. I believe I just take a biblical soteriology properly exegeting the salvation passages in their context. I don't think there is such a thing as non-lordship salvation.

Regarding applying something consistently, I believe scripture tells us how and I'm convinced that we do it. I know a lot of other men who practice the same way we do.

Thanks for the civil answer. You did well.

bob bixby said...

Kevin Bauder essentially took the same position as Mark Dever a few months ago when he discussed the question in a class I attended. I admire both men, but frankly have a hard time grasping their rationale particularly when it comes to the Lord's Table.

It seems that Dever is saying
-paedo-baptism is sin
-paedo-baptists cannot partake of the Lord's Table in my church
-they can preach in my church and we can do many things together nonetheless...

When someone asks the obvious, "Well, how can you let someone who is clearly sinning preach for you?" The explanation is, "Everybody is a sinner."

In one area he deals with a specific sin, but when that sin is specifically addressed as potentially problematic for others of God's requirements (i.e. preaching, etc.), he dismisses it as merely part of general sinfulness.

Wait a minute. If you are going to let them preach for you in your church and then withhold fellowship from them during the Communion on the basis of their specific"sin," you have to deal with the "sin" consistently. On the one hand, you defend your banning them from the Communion on the basis of specific doctrinal sin, but when challenged about the incongruity of not letting someone partake of the Lord's Table for the sin of paedo-baptism yet letting them preach for you despite that specific sin you shrug it off by saying we're all sinners generally.

The more separatistic Baptists are more consistent. The closed-communion view is consistent.

I see Anderson's point. How can T4G fans (and I am one of them) be upset with Fundamentalists who on the one hand say that KJVO is sinful, but have them speak anyway if they are not going to be equally upset with Mark Dever for saying that paedo-baptism is sinful and all paedo-baptists must be banned from the Communion, but he'll have them speak for him anyway.

I, for one, am a T4G-friendly Baptist fundamentalist who has never had a problem with KJVO speaking in my church and would not have a problem with a paedo-baptist speaking in my church even though I think both persons and their positions are wrong and indicative of their general sinfulness , but neither would I pretend to know which one I should bar from the Lord's Table, leaving it to their conscience.

Thus, the open-communion view of Fuller and Carey, etc. is also more consistent.

The middle of the road view held by Dever strikes me as one beset with all kinds of difficult discussions such as the one he is currently embroiled in.

If he justifies, for example, an R.C. Sproul preaching in his church on the grounds that his paedo-baptist views are merely evidence of his general sinfulness (and we all are sinners), but bars Sproul from the Communion Table immediately after the service because of his "specific" sin, on what grounds do Baptists like Dever get to determine which specific sins are worthy of separation from the Lord's Table unless they adopt the position that the Lord's Table is only for the members of their local church? If they say that the Lord's Table is only for those who are baptized by immersion and that not being immersed is a sin worthy of dis-fellowship from the Table then how can they honor him as a godly Christian when they can't even break bread with him?

It diminishes the seriousness of being barred from the Table. At Dever's church, it would seem, if you are barred from the Table it could merely mean that you are not Baptist. No big deal.

At my church if you are barred from the Table it could mean that we don't think you are in the Body of Christ. That's a big deal. And you certainly wouldn't be bringing the morning message either.

James Kime said...

Such interesting questions. One wonders why some people are so strict on "separation" but are so loose on baptism, when separation is subjection and baptism is explicit. Yet what happens is that so many shy from the truth of baptism to maintain status in the larger umbrella of fundamentalism. I wonder if some of that isn't due to fear of what other men would say.

Frankly, I would have a KJVO or a presby anywhere near my pulpit.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bob,

Interesting comment. So you think that the table is open to those in known sin, that being saved is the only condition? What is your scriptural basis for that in light of what communion is in Scripture? I truly am attempting to understand.

Bob Bixby said...

Kent, a paedo-baptist is not in "known" sin. He really believes in good conscience that he is in right standing before the Lord, he can show his view by a reverential treatment of the Scripture, and if all other areas in which he has knowledge he is doing what he knows to be good, I do not see where I can block him from the elements. "to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).

Since I view the Communion Table to be the Lord's table and not the private table of any church or denomination, an ordinance that, in part, is to remind individuals of their union with the Body of Christ I think that it is imperative that every man "examine himself" to decide if he is taking the elements in a worthy manner.

If one really believes that the paedo-baptist view is a sin knowingly adhered to by all paedo-baptists regardless of any other extenuating circumstances then I find it incongruent to have someone who knowingly violates his conscience preach or lead in other Christian responsibilities.

I don't think that Dever or Bauder would claim that our paedo-baptist brothers are knowingly defying their conscience and the Word of God. Therefore, I find it a bit inconsistent for Dever to forbid someone who is NOT knowingly defying his conscience and the Word of God to partake in the Lord's Table with him. What about all the other sins that everyone else in his congregation may be unknowingly committing? To be consistent he should forbid them as well.

Yet, if the brethren should be forbidden the Lord's Table -- if God won't let them sit down with Him -- how presumptuous it is to let the same brother preach!

I personally appeal to the conscience of all those who hear me deliver the Lord's Supper that if they really understand that they are to be immersed after conversion then they should not persist in this known resistance to their conscience. But some are not sinning against their conscience because they are persuaded of the rightness of their view. They are, nonetheless, partakers (spiritually) of the Bread and Cup and therefore it is not my prerogative, I think, to forbid them.

Kevin said...

Pastor Bixby,

For what it's worth, your articulation of this problem is plausible. I do not believe that the church either admits or denies the Lord's Table to anyone. The church should announce the qualifications, but at the end of the day it is up to every man to examine himself.

If I am administering the Lord's Table, and a pedobaptist can participate with a clear conscience, I'm not going to pitch a fit. And if I'm in a pedobaptist church where the Lord's Table is being celebrated, and if the meaning of the table is rightly expressed, then I will participate.

Kevin T. Bauder

James Kime said...

I wish there was an edit. On my last comment it should read that I wouldn't have a presby or KJVO anywhere near our pulpit.

Kevin, I am saddened by your statements on that. You seem to favor being a fundamentalist over being baptist. I don't know why you can't be both equally.

I just read John Smyth's nature and character of the beast. In it he puts forth that one's baptism also relates to the church's constitution. If baptism is invalid, so is the church's existence. Therefore, presbies are not an actual church. They are a gathering of people but do not meet the scriptural qualifications of a church.

This is true from their perspective as well. As someone already pointed out, presbies believe baptists are in sin if we DON'T 'baptize' infants. Calvin said a true church was one that preached the word of God and rightly observed the ordinances.

In their own writings they condemn us (falsely of course since they are in error), but yet you and others will not step up and shame their false view.

The Lord's supper and baptism are to be observed within the church. I would like to see Dever take the next obvious step and condemn their view of the Lord's supper as well as being invalid.

You sir are the president of a Baptist theological seminary yet treat our namesake as not really important. Our theological forerunners paid the price of a high view of baptism. Why should we treat that with such contempt and dishonor what they stood for.

Anonymous said...

Good points Bob.

And James, even though the Westminster Confession indicates that withholding baptism from covenant children is great sin, it does not bar those sinners from church membership or the eucharist.

My children have not yet been baptized (long story . . . short version is we were in a baptist church when they were young), but I have been a member of a Presbyterian church for over 10 years, taking communion every week!

And Kent, unless you want to argue that Jesus did not fellowship with Peter or the rest of the 12, then I'd say it's pretty obvious that he fellowshipped with sinners in addition to eating with them. I think he had some fine Koinonia with some mighty big sinners. If he doesn't have fellowship with sinners you and I are in big trouble. And, that's not just an opinion.

Keith

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah. We Presbyterians (at least in the PCA) make a point of INVITING baptists and other bible believing evangelical and fundamentalist christians to participate in the Lord's Supper with us.

Each week our pastors say someting like, "This is not the table of this congregation. It is not the table of the Presbyterian Church in America. It is Christ's table. All those who are in Christ, who have been baptized, who are members of a Bible believing church, and who have repented of known sin [not hanging on to sin in open rebellion to Christ] are invited and encouraged to commune."

If one had to be sinless to commune, then no one ever could.

Keith

Michael said...

Keith, baptize your children immediately!

Bobby Mitchell said...

Kevin Bauder,

For the sake of clarity among the Lord's people, please stop referring to yourself as a Baptist. What a mess.

Andrew said...

Alright, I'll bite.

Bobby, I am only asking this because I truly do not know. What makes Dr. Bauder a non-baptist?

Bobby Mitchell said...

Andrew, thanks for asking. I count myelf happy to attempt a good answer.

This will be a little long, so please take the time to read since you asked. My apologies to the blog owner if I've gone over the limit here.

There are many verses in the Scriptures that deal with the need to stand firmly for sound doctrine and practice and the need to stand opposed to false doctrine and practice. The Lord Jesus Christ, Peter, Paul, John, and Jude all are examples of this fact. They all teach and demonstrate that the Lord’s churches are responsible to speak up, speak against, and separate from those who teach other than the Word of God.

Certainly baptism, one of only two ordinances that the Lord has given His churches, and a practice that preaches the Gospel, is worth contending for. After all, any false baptism is actually a perversion of the Gospel—it is another Gospel.

This need to contend for baptism, the one baptism of the NT, has certainly been understood by Baptist leaders and churches down through the centuries. I will demonstrate this by giving examples from a few sources of Baptist/NT church history.

HISTORICAL PROOF THAT THE LORD’S CHURCHES CONTENDED FOR BAPTISM

Pages 79-81 of The Baptist Heritage, Four Centuries of Baptist Witness by Leon McBeth, 1987, Broadman Press.
Gould contended for NT baptism and against infant baptism.

Ibid. Page 141. Henry Dunster lost the presidency of Harvard for refusing to keep quiet about baptism.

Ibid. Page 140. Obadiah Holmes was whipped in part because he contended that “baptism should be reserved for believers only.” That was here in New England.

Pages 65-66 of I Will Build My Church, The Doctrine and History of Baptists by Thomas M. Strouse, 1995, Tabernacle Baptist Theological Press. In the 3rd Century Novation and his followers were contending for NT baptism.

Ibid. Pages 69-70. Petilian contended for NT baptism.
Ibid. Page 79. Who were the Waldenses? See pages 77-78.

Ibid. Page 95. Conrad Grebel contended for Baptism and ended up dying in prison.

Ibid. Page 95. Felix Manz was drowned for preaching believer’s baptism. More information on his martyrdom is seen on Page 7 of This Day in Baptist History by E. Wayne Thompson and David L. Cummins, 1993, BJU Press.
Page 123.

How To Model Your Ministry After the New Testament by Wendell Mullen, McElroy Publishing. Balthasar Hubmair was tortured and killed in large part due to his stand for NT baptism.

Ibid. Page 102. The English Baptists contended for baptism by standing for it in their statement of faith.

Ibid. Pages 164-169. Michael Sattler and his wife were killed largely due to their conviction for NT baptism.

Page 25 of A History of the Baptists in Maine by Joshua Millet, 1845, Charles Day and Company. The Baptists of Kittery, Maine, were persecuted because of baptism.

Ibid. Page 29. The Baptists of Maine were given the choice of either paying a tax for the Congregational church or carrying a certificate that declared them to be “Anabaptists.” They endured the tax because they contended that they were not “re-baptizers (Anabaptists), but that their baptism was true NT baptism and therefore the first baptism of their converts. They were persecuted for baptism because they contended for baptism.

Internet printout from reformedreader.org quoting A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America, And other Parts of the World by David Benedict, 1813, Lincoln and Emands. Pastor Daniel Merrill of Sedgwick Maine, and other Baptists of that era contended for baptism.

COMPARE THOSE HISTORICAL EXAMPLES WITH THE MODERN MINDSET AS ILLUSTRATED BY THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS.

“Denominational differences on matters of church government or mode of baptism should not preclude fellowship or cooperation with spiritual Christians or other denominations.” From an article titled “Biblical Separation” By the BJU Bible faculty, 1980, BJU Press.

“Realizing that bitter controversy raging around the mode and proper subjects of the ordinance of Christian baptism has divided the Body of Christ when that Body should have been united in Christian love and Holy Ghost power to stem the onslaughts and hell-inspired assaults of modernism, hereby affirms that each member of the Free Presbyterian Church shall have liberty to decide for himself which course to adopt on these controverted issues, each member giving due honor in love to the views held by differing brethren.” From the Free Presbyterian Statement of Faith.

NOW, IT IS NO SURPRISE THAT A FREE PRESBYTERIAN WOULD STATE SUCH, BUT IT IS SAD THAT BAPTIST CHURCHES AND SEMINARIES, AND LEADERS LIKE KEVIN BAUDER PRACTICALLY AGREE WITH THE THESE NOTIONS.

Kevin Bauder's post here indicates that baptism isn't really all THAT important--why should it be involved in including or exluding one from communion?

What a slap in the face to the many Baptists who understood that it was important enough to DIE over. Too bad Henry Dunster didn't realize how unimportant it was. He could have kept his presidency at Harvard and not been kicked out of his home in Massachusetts in the month of March with his sick children and wife to journey through the wilderness.

It is the LORD'S TABLE that He delivered to His churches. Paul relates in 1 Corinthians that he received of the Lord what he delivered to that church. He praised the church for remembering him in all things and that "ye keep the ordinances." Would a church be "keeping" the ordinances if they behave in such a way as to imply that baptism doesn't matter all that much and allow un-baptized professors to participate in the communion time?

If it was my table I might open it up to all kinds of people, but it is not ours. It is the Lord's! We ought to protect it by refusing those who are disobedient.

The idea that as long as one professes to have a good conscience about it they should be allowed to participate would not be applied to many other areas of disobedience. I wonder if Kevin Bauder would accept their own "self-exmination" if their disobedience involved other open sins. Either baptism by immersion after salvation is right and the others are wrong or not. Baptists believe that paedo-baptism is disobedience. It is not a disobedience that is only known by God. It is obvious and open disobedience! Churches should deal with it appropriately by refusing to participate with those who are disobedient.

The Bible does not present baptism as a "controverted issue" but as a COMMAND FROM THE CAPTAIN OF OUR FAITH!  The Bible plainly reveals that BAPTISM IS IMMERSION in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with the proper candidate being one who has been regenerated and the proper authority to baptize being a New Testament church.  This is plain from the preaching and teaching of Christ and the Apostles. 

For two thousand years New Testament Christians have tenaciously contended for NT Baptism.  They have paid a tremendous price with their blood as they refused to recognize the sprinkling and pouring of the Romanists and the Protestants as valid baptism.  Baptists died because they would not recognize the heretical practice of infant baptism. 

Baptists have been maligned and misunderstood because they would not accept the immersion of groups that were not NT in their faith and practice. How sad that in this modern time Baptist men are compromising with those who see this matter of tremendous importance as a matter of personal liberty. 

This involves our COMMISSION that was given to the churches by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).  There is no room for "personal liberty" when it comes to preaching the Gospel and there is no room for "personal liberty" when it comes to the FIRST STEP OF OBEDIENCE for those who believe. 

CONCLUSION
False baptism teaches another Gospel.
It embraces disobedience.
It ignores the pattern of the NT as set forth by John the Baptist, The Lord Jesus Christ, and the early churches.
It belittles the practice of the Lord Jesus Christ Who was immersed by John the Baptist.
It was important to John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, the Apostles, and NT churches down through the centuries.

If Keven Bauder believes and practices as he states here, then again, I say, stop using the title of Baptist. It just adds to the confusion that abounds today. Call yourself a fundamentalist or a protestant or a protestant fundamentalist or whatever. But, Baptists should be Baptists.

Thanks for considering this.

Todd Wood said...

Bob B. captures the musings within my head at the moment.

And I appreciate Bauder's followup.

Andrew said...

Bobby,

Thank you for the time to answer my question. A couple of brief comments. If Ben so desires, we can discuss further by e-mail if necessary.

For starters, I am a Baptist. And although I have some wonderful friends who are paedobaptists, I strongly disagree with them on this point. That being said...

1) Those who do not agree with your view of baptism you describe as perverting the gospel and preaching another gospel. According to Galatians 1, those are incredibly serious charges. In your estimation, then, what would be the spiritual condition of Presbyterians and others who would not agree?

2) I am not speaking for Dr. Bauder. He is at the very least 15 times smarter than I am. I did, however, read back over his comments and read that he believes that paedobaptists are in sin when they sprinkle their babies. So I am assuming that you are answering his second post.

Agree with him or not on his qualifications for the Lord's Table, his main point seemed to be that whether or not one partakes of the Lord's Supper is a matter between themselves and the Lord. If a paedobaptist, who as far as their conscience is concerned, feels free to join in, Dr. Bauder is not going to pitch a fit. And if he is in a church in which paedobaptism is practiced and that church celebrates the Lord Supper, as long as the qualifications would not exclude him, he would feel free to participate.

I guess I just do not see how that disqualifies him from being a baptist.

James Kime said...

Because to take the Lord's supper legitimizes their observance of it. Baptists historically held to the view that paedo gatherings are not legitimate churches.

I find it odd that fundamentalists are so worried about their associates so as to not legitimize the practice of others (conservative evangelicals or otherwise), yet completely disregard an issue that scripture is explicit about, namely baptism.

I don't know if Bobby is of the Landmark viewpoint so I am not answering for him. I am not a Landmarker. My view is just in line with the historical baptist viewpoint.

Chris Anderson said...

Dr. Bauder, we'll gladly take you in as a "Bible Church" guy now that you've been defrocked.

"Come on in...the water's fine." :)

Bobby Mitchell said...

Good words, James.

According to Brooks Adams book, The Emancipation of Massachusetts (1996), the day that Holmes, Crandall, and Clark were forced by the constable to enter a paedo-baptist worship service to be accused by their persecutors they did not so much as remove their hats for the service. When John Clark was allowed to speak he explained "how he had put on his hat because he could not judge that they were gathered according to the visible order of the Lord" (page 112).

Quite a different mindset from the protestant type, so-called Baptists of the present that are so prevalent in fundamentalism and evangelicalism.

Why be a Baptist, why call yourself one, if in the end it really doesn't matter all that much.

Too bad Kevin Bauder and others weren't there to explain to O. Holmes why they needn't be militant about these things. It could have saved Obadiah a serious lashing and weeks of pain. (SARCASM).

Bobby Mitchell said...

Andrew,

You wrote:

"1) Those who do not agree with your view of baptism you describe as perverting the gospel and preaching another gospel".

Baptism preaches the Gospel. When they baptize babies and sprinkle then that is preaching another Gospel. The death and burial of Christ is not symbolized by sprinkling. I did not write that they preach another Gospel in the sense of proclaiming with the voice or pen.

I have heard them preach and read their writings in which they preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but their baptism is a perversion and it perverts the Gospel by its mode. It is actually not even really baptism (immersion), it is just perversion through and through.

Thanks.

Andrew said...

One quick clarification. When I was summarizing some of the things that Dr. Bauder had said earlier, I did not summarize him correctly. I had written, "And if he is in a church in which paedobaptism is practiced and that church celebrates the Lord Supper, as long as the qualifications would not exclude him, he would feel free to participate." That is not accurate. He would feel free to participate "if the meaning of the Table was rightly expressed." My apologies.

Anonymous said...

Where exactly is the Biblical passage which explicitly teaches the baptist understanding of baptism?

The passage that says something like, "Thou shalt only baptize those who can profess with their mouths, and thou must baptize them by imersion?"

I'm not looking for explanations of Biblical texts. I know the explanations (I know you think baptizo only means immerse, I don't agree, but I know that's what you think, etc.). What I'm saying is that if the text is explicit is should not require any explanation. (for that matter if the Greek word always and only meant immerse, then the translators would have translated it instead of transliterating it).

I am not saying that baptists are wrong to have their convictions. I'm just arguing against the ridiculous harshness of those claiming there is an unmistakeably clear Biblical passage establishing your approach.

Keith

James Kime said...

Keith, in the great commission, who did Jesus say to baptize?

a) everyone you can

b) babies

c) cats

d) disciples

You can treat this like an open book exam. Turn to Matthew 28.

Bobby Mitchell said...

Thanks, James.

That is almost exactly the answer I wanted to give Keith.

These things are not hidden in some obscure and difficult text.

I am not surprised that Keith, a Protestant, would find these things difficult, but I find it amazing that so-called Baptists would express the things that have been stated in these comments.

If these are the men training young men, what in the world are the students believing and teaching? Again, what a mess!

Michael said...

Wow, James. I guess we paedobaptists might as well say something equally snarky like, who did Jesus say to make disciples of:

a) fish

b) people above the age of accountability

c) bears

d) all the nations

Baptists don't have a monopoly on prayerful and regular Bible reading, you know. They didn't even come up with "Sola Scriptura."

Bobby Mitchell said...

Michael and Keith,

How about one example from Scripture of paedobaptism? Or one passage that clearly tells us to practice paedobaptism.

I'm happy that you read the Bible and pray, Michael. That is good and I wish more people would. However, merely reading the Word is not the answer. We are to be reading, meditating, memorizing, studying, proving all things by, keeping, and obeying "every Word of God." This is done in the context of the local NT church as it is "the pillar and ground of the truth."

Jesus is the One Who first, in this NT age, told us to live by every Word of God.

It is my hope and prayer that truth concerning baptism and every doctrine and practice we have received from Scripture will prevail in the hearts, minds, and lives of all who belong to the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Bobby,

I was not attempting to argue for or defend paedobaptism in my last comment. I was not even trying to argue against credo immersion. I was merely arguing against the claim that there is an explicit and unmistakeably clear passage teaching such.

I have made no claim that there is an explicit passage teaching paedobaptism. I have made no claim that there is an explicit example of such recorded.

James and you have claimed such explicitness for your position, and I have asked for an example. Yet, none has been provided. So, I can rest my case.

The great commission is not explicit about immersion. And, as Michael pointed out it's not even explicit about the proper subjects of baptism unless you are willing to baptize "nations" directly.

Again, I respect those who have been conviced of the historical baptist position (men such as Dr. Bauder appears to be). I also respect men who have been conviced of the covenantal view of baptism. Furthermore, I respect them while firmly acknowledging that both positions cannot be fully correct. One or both must be in part or in whole incorrect.

Since the Scriptures are not explicit in the way you claim, every Christian must at some point study the Scriptures and come to a conviction. Nevertheless, they should hold that conviction with grace, love, and humility towards those who have faithfully (even if erroneously) come to the opposite conviction.

Unless of course you think that those who executed your anabaptist and baptist forebears were handling this difference appropriately -- just from the wrong direction.

Keith

Bobby Mitchell said...

Keith,

You are wrong. The Scriptures are explicit that John the Baptist, the Lord's church, and the churches in Acts baptized (immersed) BELIEVERS. Peter explicitly told the convicted hearers of the Gospel on the day of Pentecost to repent and be baptized. The command is given to teach all nations, or preach the Gospel to every creature, and baptize those that believe.

This is explicitly seen as the understanding of the command of the Lord's churches as they obeyed this as is recorded in the book of Acts.

There is no infant-baptism in all the Scriptures. Infant baptism is the invention of men who wrested the Scriptures. It was the logical conclusion of those that first embraced baptismal regeneration.

You are wrong in attempting to wiggle out of this by claiming that it is not explicit. God has not given us the command and then left us to grope in a fog to "hopefully" obey it.

Infant baptism is false practice rooted in false doctrine. It is spiritually deadly and devilish. It has resulted in millions of people being confused concerning conversion. It was the motivating force behind multitudes of Bible-believers being persecuted and killed.

Like David I hate every false way. I pray that you will be delivered from the error of your way and that Baptists will be Baptists and have no fellowship with these unfruitful works.

Michael said...

Bobby, everything you say about paedobaptism is actually true of anabaptism - it's an invention of men, it's not in the Bible, it's sinful, spiritually deadly, etc.

It's frustrating to debate baptists about this because they think everything they do is explicitly Biblical and isn't traditional, when really their unique positions are anti-Biblical and survive through a bad tradition.

Even if good hermeneutics didn't prove the paedobaptist position, it would still be on the baptists, who deviated from historic, orthodox Christianity, to use explicit proof, and they have never been able to do that except by misunderstanding the Bible.

In conclusion, Baptists think they rely on the Bible more than paedobaptists, but they actually rely on a false understanding of the Bible. A person who believes what the Bible truly teaches is a paedobaptist.

Bobby Mitchell said...

Michaela and Keith,

In accordance with Titus 3:10 I'm done with you both.

Michael said...

Just another extra-Biblical interpretation. :)

Anonymous said...

Just for clarity, my arguments are not the same as Michaels.

But beyond that, while I think that Titus 3:10 is a great verse to bring into this discussion, I'm really struggling to see how my position is the divisive one here.

See John 13:34-35 and John 17:11.

Peace

Keith