Saturday, March 31, 2012

Never post angry.

That's why I took a half hour to cool down, physically (no small task in my neck of the woods) and metaphorically, after a jog in which I listened to a couple lectures by a dispensationalist fundamentalist.

A couple pleas:

1. My dispensationalist friends, who lament (justifiably) the frequency at which you're misrepresented, please don't do the same thing. Please understand the positions you're critiquing. And don't lump everyone who disagrees with you into the same lot, as if they all believed the same thing.

2. Please get your facts straight. Don't spread blatant inaccuracies. (We used to call them lies.)

3. Please stop insinuating that everyone who rejects your position does so because it's the hip, popular trend.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Like a Moth to the Flame

No matter how hard I try, I just can't quit this blogging thing. But life's much more busy now, all of a sudden. (If you're a facebook friend, you already know all about that, but this blog isn't about me—FB clearly is.) So in light of that, posting here may be intermittent, or even less than that, but I ain't done yet. I've stepped up my game a bit on Twitter though. You can follow me there @ben_wright_ for worthwhile links, poor-man's observational comedy, and attempts at pithy commentary. Here's a sample:

~Had lunch today with a dear brother who came to Christ through the ministries of @JohnMacarthur and Hal Lindsey. #synergy

~Keller on commuter churches (video, start at 52:12):

~Bridges: "Though perseverance is developed in the crucible of adversity, it is energized by faith."

~Piper's #Bloodlines, special discount @WTSbooks: (discount appears when you add to cart)

~Helpful @SBTS panel on Christian ministry & #Islam: (I remember that Toledo mosque 30 years ago.)

~#SCOTUS on #Obamacare: fascinating. Most justices interested in essential legal issues. Others simply want to advocate policy.

~Sills: "80% of pastors pastor within 200 miles of their wife's mama. I've gotta wonder who's calling whom."

Now if that wasn't fun enough, I have a couple photos for you.

I think the first one is of a 1970s Acts29 pastor:

And the second one . . . well, let's just say this wasn't a difficult choice, at least not for me:

Friday, March 09, 2012

How Many Unconverted Children Do You Want to Baptize?

Challies' post on when we should baptize children who've made a profession of faith has generated discussion in various places. Here's my response to a friend's question about the issue:
I think it comes down to a question of what you believe the church is doing when you baptize. You might think that you are merely telling the church that the person has professed faith in Christ. So anyone who says he's a Christian and wants to be baptized, you baptize: the upper-middle-class tidy-life couple, the town drunk, or a 4-year-old kid.

On the other hand, if you think baptism is a declaration of allegiance to Christ, affirmed by the church, and linked to church membership with all its privileges and obligations, then you're going to think it's pretty important for there to be some sort of examination of the credibility of the person's profession.

If you go the latter route, you're going to have to ask yourself (in light of Scripture) what constitutes a credible profession of faith, and at what point a child is ready to bear the burden of congregational rule and accountability to church discipline. It's very difficult to discern the credibility of that profession in the life of a young person, particularly one inclined to fear of man and people-pleasing, while the child is under the primary care and authority of his or her parents. For that reason, I'd do all I can to avoid baptizing a pre-teen, and the more I'm seeing in pastoral ministry, the higher that age is getting in my mind.
If you want to make the argument that conversion and baptism are linked in Scripture, I'd agree. Wholeheartedly. In fact, it's precisely because I agree so strongly that I think it's generally unwise to baptize young children. Frankly, I believe there's a far greater problem in contemporary American Christianity because we regularly baptize unconverted young children, than there is because we unreasonably withhold baptism from the genuinely converted.

In other words, I'm arguing that we have a foundational problem in our understanding of conversion. We really need to get that problem sorted out before we get too upset over people "delaying" baptism—or before we give any more kids the false impression that they're eternally secure.

Finally, I don't know of a better combination of theological clarity and practical application on the matter of baptism than what you'll find in this book—one of the most helpful things I've read in the past five years.