Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bethlehem Baptist Withdraws Motion!! For Now...

It has been a marvelous day. First off, I learn that I am the recipient of the coveted "Most Improved Blog of 2005" by the noble Centuri0n, then as I am contemplating my next series on the Lord's Supper, I see this over at the Paleoevangelical's place. I began this series on Baptism and the Lord's Supper because the original proposal at Bethlehem Baptist upset me tremendously. I am glad to see that a few of the elders have changed their mind. I hope as they pray and put their heads together that more will change their minds as well, including John Piper and the majority of the staff.

3 comments:

Gummby said...

Congrats on the Award. It was truly deserved (even if it is only a wooden nickle).

So here's my question. If you have someone who is a Presbyterian who comes to your church, and they have not received the correct form of baptism (believer's baptism by immersion), how would you handle it? My working assumptions here are the scenario that Piper gave--that they have made a credible profession of faith, and that they have a reason (such as conscience) why they would not choose to be baptized. Also, would you make a distinction between a paedo-sprinkling and a believer's sprinkling (I'm not sure if anyone actually does the latter, but I'm insatiably curious).

Sojourner said...

Matt,

Thanks! I didn't even realize that I got nominated or I would have made up false names and voted for myself. I vote early and often.

As for the potential "Presbyterian" member, the first thing I have to say is that we aren't Presbyterians; we are Baptists. The hallmark of Baptists has always been that we believe in believer's baptism. If his conscience cannot be persuaded through Scripture and reason, then he cannot join our membership. Baptists have seen this as a clear-cut issue of obedience.

For the second on "sprinkling" vs. "immersion", I am persuaded that sprinkling is not the sign given by Scripture. I believe in immersion. I have known of chaplains to dig holes in deserts and line them with a tarp in order to acquire enough water to immerse a new believer. I and my Church believe that believer's baptism by immersion is what the New Testament teaches. Again, if someone cannot be persuaded by Scripture and reason, then they cannot join the membership. We are, after all, Baptists!

Does this mean I believe them to be unsaved? Not in the least. Does it mean that I believe that they are being dull of hearing and obstinate to Scripture? Yes, I do believe that. I know that thems fighting words, but to me it is a clear issue. If my brothers and sisters disagree, then I will civilly discuss the issue with them and hope that if I am wrong I can be persuaded by Scripture and reason.

étrangère said...

As important as baptism is, surely the timing and method are less important than receiving a brother in Christ into membership of the local expression of his body to be built up in the faith and under the instruction, direction, discipline and care of the eldership?

It's all very well to fire from the hip when you're in the US and (one assumes) there are other Confessional Evangelical churches to which the aforementioned hypothetical 'convinced in his own mind' paedobaptist may go. What if there aren't?

I've been a member of a church which was Baptistic by confession (1689) and practice, but believed that form and timing of baptism are secondary to gospel unity so welcomed convinced paedobaptists into membership (with an understanding not to undermine the teaching, discipline, etc of the elders on the matter). Fellowship was sweet. Now I'm in a country where to be Evangelical is to be Baptist, and (while you presumably celebrate this fullness of understanding and purity of practice) I find I cannot be a member of a Reformed Evangelical church.

I'm with Piper (who's with Bunyan,...) - I think that it is wrong to among to refuse a fellow believer (Confessional, Reformed & Evangelical believer!) to membership to membership because we are convinced differently on the mode and timing of baptism.

I'll keep stopping by to read but probably not comment much - I usually prefer to chew over much rather than respond to something little by little.

PS Your clarity on the matter does not excuse your 'fighting words'. Fighting words are to be used with teachers of another gospel. Use words that build up, not tear down, unless in discussing the theology of your Reformed paedobaptist brothers you consider that you're attacking a stronghold that sets itself up against the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.