Institute For Reformed Baptist Studies:
Dr. James Renihan interviews Dr. Fred Malone on the importance of Believer’s Baptism. What is baptism? Who is to be baptised? How are they to be baptised? And what role does baptism play in the church?
Dr. James Renihan:
The popular 17th century Presbyterian preacher Stephen Marshall stated that rejecting infant baptism necessitated a rejection of the Lord’s Day Sabbath as well. Here is the reply from John Tombes.
John Tombes: An examen of the sermon of Mr. Stephen Marshal about infant-baptisme in a letter sent to him. 1645:
…Their ground you say is, because there is not an expresse institution or command in the New Testament: this then is their principle, that what hath not an expresse institution or command in the New Testament is to be rejected. But give me leave to tell you, that you leave out two explications that are needful to be taken in; First, that when they say so, they meane it of positive instituted worship, consisting in outward rites, such as Circumcision, Baptisme and the Lord’s Supper are, which have nothing morall or naturall in them, but are in whole and in part Ceremoniall. For that which is naturall or morall in worship, they allow an institution or command in the old Testament as obligatory to Christians, and such doe they conceive a Sabbath to be, as being of the Law of nature, that outward worship being due to God, days are due to God to that end, and therefore even in Paradise, appointed from the creation; and in all nations, in all ages observed: enough to prove so much to be of the Law of nature, and therefore the fourth Commandment justly put amongst the Morals…
Huddled together in 1644, representatives of 7 churches gathered to summarize their common confession, and to distinguish themselves from the Anabaptists and the Arminians. It was a time of turmoil, and the river of the Reformation had swept across the banks of London. This was one of the first of several non-Anglican groups in that century to put pen to paper and confess their faith. Two years later, the Westminster Assembly would produce its own confession (WCF), and then in 1658, the Congregationalists would follow suit (Savoy Declaration). That original group of 7 churches was the Particular Baptists. Amid persecution, and to show their solidarity and theological agreement in many ways with the Presbyterians and Congregationalists that had since written their own confessions, a larger crop of Baptists would draft the 1677 Baptist Confession with great reliance on the WCF and Savoy, however due to persecution, this document would not be published until 1689, giving it the name that it is known by today: “The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith”. This Confession was classically theist in its view of God, covenantal in its view of Biblical Theology, “Calvinist” in its soteriology, and would show alignment with the Westminster Confession of Faith on the Ordinary Means of Grace and the Law. I grew up Baptist, became Calvinistic in my soteriology in my teen years, and have found a wonderful home in the confessional roots of Baptist theology as a pastor in my mid-thirties. To me, this Historic Confession, similar to the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Savoy Declaration, is worth considering for at least five reasons:
For Baptists influenced by the ‘New Calvinism’, it is helpful to see that for Baptists, Calvinism is not “new”…
It contains a wonderful vision for the Christian life…
There is value in saying more sometimes…
Historic Confessions ground us…
Believer’s Baptism has much of its roots in a Covenant Theology…
Over at Founders Ministries’ THE BLOG, Pastor Tom Hicks writes:
…Jared Oliphint recently wrote an article for the Gospel Coalition in which he made a case for infant baptism on the basis of the distinction between the internal and external aspects of the covenant (Berkhof calls this the “dual aspect” of the covenant of grace). Oliphint argues that the new covenant is breakable, and that understanding the allegedly breakable nature of the new covenant helps make sense of infant baptism. I’m going to show you why Oliphint’s argument is unconvincing to this Reformed Baptist.
1. Oliphint says the new covenant is a mixed body.
The bulk of Oliphint’s case for infant baptism rests on the argument that the new covenant is a mixed body of believers and unbelievers. He makes this argument from Hebrews 10:26-30 and John 15:1-6…
2. I say the new covenant is a pure believers covenant.
Though theoretically a Reformed Baptist might grant Oliphint’s point about the mixed nature of the new covenant, that is not my position, nor is it the historic Baptist position. The reason is purely exegetical. Let’s look a little more closely at the two passages Oliphint provides in support of his position…
[K]ey to Oliphint’s argument for a mixed new covenant of believers and unbelievers is found in Hebrews 10:29, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and has outraged the Spirit of grace.” Oliphint argues that this describes someone who was truly in the new covenant, sanctified by its blood, but who later fell away from the covenant, rejected Christ and came under His wrath
There are two serious problems with Oliphint’s interpretation:
1. It proves too much. Does Oliphint really believe that all baptized infants and unbelievers in the covenant are “sanctified” (v. 29) by the blood of the covenant? What about the Reformed doctrine of definite/effectual atonement? Does Christ’s blood sanctify unbelievers? Is Oliphint advocating a kind of limited Arminianism? What about the teaching in the book of Hebrews, just one chapter earlier, that Christ’s blood is effectual to save? It says that Jesus died, “securing an eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12). His blood “secures” or renders certain, an “eternal,” permanent, “redemption” by which Christ has bought liberty for all His covenant people. Hebrews also says, “A death has occurred that redeems” (Heb 9:15). This doesn’t say His blood potentially redeems, or makes redemption possible. It says that Christ’s blood actually redeems! Hebrews tells us that Jesus “sat down” in the courts of heaven because there is no more work for Him to do! His blood made complete “purification for sins” (Heb 1:3), securing perfect redemption. Oliphint’s exegesis seems to entail a weakening of the nature of the atonement and a broadening of the extent of the atonement.
2. It assumes too much…
3. The lack of a case for infant baptism…
You may also be interested in Brandon Adams’ response to the same post.
The audio from the March 23, 2015 “Credobaptism vs. Paedobaptism” Gregg Strawbridge vs. James White Baptism Debate in Altamonte Springs, FL. is now online.
Update June 25, 2015: Video now online:
Pastor Tom Hicks interacts with the proof texts that are used by those who believe that baptism causes salvation:
A number of groups teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. Roman Catholics, the Churches of Christ, Anglicans, and proponents of the Federal Vision, all say that the water-rite of baptism is necessary and effectual for salvation. Consider the six main passages these groups use to support their position.
[Mark 16:16 | Acts 2:38 | Acts 22:16 | Romans 6:3-7 | Galatians 3:27 | 1 Peter 3:21]
Although the event said he would be answering question on Islam and Christian Baptism the questions were much more varied.
• 00:00 – 03:54 Intro by Chris Arnzen (he fills us in that Iron Sharpens Iron will be relaunched in 3-4 weeks!)
• 03:55 – 10:16 James White’s opening words on focusing on Christ not any “celebrity” (here is the video he mentions “James White’s scary 5 year prediction for the church“)
• 10:17 – 18:51 “Do you believe Theonomy to be a heresy…?” (here is his “Holiness Code for Today” series that he mentions)
• 18:52 – 25:17 “How should we approach gays who call themselves Christians?” (here is the debate mentioned Debate: Can You Be Gay & Christian? – James White & Justin Lee)
• 25:18 – 29:00 “When a homosexual says, ‘We all have our pet sin’ how do you approach that?”
• 29:01 – 30:49 “While many Christians speak of it being a reality that same-sex attraction exist amongst truly born-again people, why is it that very few dare to say the same of some of the abominations recorded in the Scriptures such as bestiality and necrophilia?”
• 30:50 – 34:47 “What part, if any, do you believe that Islam plays in the end times?”
• 34:48 – 41:31 “If you agree that the Abrahamic Covenant is a covenant of promise to believers and their children and is an eternal covenant, so how is the New Covenant any different?”
• 41:32 – 45:49 “In an interview with a King James Only guy you made the comment about Paul quoting an Old Testament variant… would you please comment on how that would affect the Word of God being perfect.” (here is the interview that was being discussed with Steve Anderson)
• 45:50 – 51:38 “How great of a danger do you see presented by the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ as compared to other religious or spiritual movements?”
• 51:39 – 55:22 “How or should we condemn Unitarianism and Modalism as damnable heresy even if it maintains a view of Christ’s deity when at the same time many Christian apologist recognize that the majority of Evangelicals in the pew could not Biblically define the Trinity without slipping into a Modalist [or Unitarian] example.”
• 55:45 – 64:00 “How would you teach the best way to approach a Muslim with the Gospel? …”
The Gospel by Citizens & Saints
This past Friday (March 20, 2015) Dr. Crawford Gribben (Professor of Early Modern British History at Queen’s University Belfast) was the guest lecturer at the Strict Baptist Historical Society Annual Lecture which took place in Kensington Place, London. His lecture was titled, “John Owen, baptism & the Baptists”.
Pastor Gary Brady, who attended, provided a summary:
…Gribben is a John Owen expert, well read in the great man’s works and his careful, erudite paper was something of an encouragement to Baptists, given how highly respected the Congregationalist theologian is. The basic idea was that Owen generally avoided the baptism question and especially so as he matured and actually met Baptists such as Henry Jessey. He appears to have moved from an advocacy of baptismal regeneration to a more middle of the road infant Baptist position. A posthumous work that appears to look at the subject is probably spurious. Sadly, Dr Gribben was unable to cast any light on the relationship between Owen and Bunyan…
Dr. James White is coming to Sovereign Grace Family Church to answer questions regarding Islam and Christian Baptism. The doors will open at 8:15 am and the service will begin at 9:00 am.
Solid Ground Christian Book store will be on site selling books before and after the service. Coffee will be served prior to service at 8:15 am.
All are welcome to hear Dr. White’s presentation.
Understanding Four Views on Baptism
(Counterpoints: Church Life)
What is the significance of water baptism? Who should be baptized? Is infant baptism scriptural? Which is the proper baptismal mode: sprinkling, pouring, or immersion? Should people be rebaptized if they join a church that teaches a different form of baptism? Should baptism be required for church membership? These and other questions are explored in this thought-provoking book.
Four historic views on baptism are considered in depth:
Each view is presented by its proponent, then critiqued and defended in dialogue with the book’s other contributors. Here is an ideal setting in which you can consider the strengths and weaknesses of each stance and arrive at your own informed conclusion.
Print Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (August 30, 2009)
Lending: Not Enabled
Here is some updated info on the Strawbridge vs. White debate, that we previous mentioned.
This event is being organized by The Spurgeon Fellowship of Florida. Details:
Monday, March 23rd
7pm: James White and Gregg Strawbridge debate Credobaptism vs. Paedobaptism
@ Orlando Grace Church
872 Maitland Ave
Altamonte Springs, FL
For ticket reservations:
Call 407-660-1984 or 386-868-8085 email@example.com
Brandon Adams writes:
When Presbyterians are first introduced to 1689 Federalism, often one of their first responses is “Oh, so you deny the visible/invisible distinction of the church?” To which we respond “No.” For example, Chris Villi says:
In one of the key statements of the book, Denault writes, “The Scriptures do not provide any possibilities of being visibly in the New Covenant without participating effectively in its substance” (p. 153). This assertion represents one of the most fundamental errors of Baptist theology. Essentially, Denault is arguing that everyone in the New Covenant is truly saved and that it is impossible for an unbeliever to be connected to the New Covenant in any sense. Denault notes that, for Particular Baptists, the New Covenant “did not have an external administration in which the non-elect were to be found” (p. 86).
Again, the denial of the possibility of unbelievers in the visible church is one of the most problematic aspects of the federalism espoused by Denault. Is it really possible to guarantee that there are no non-elect people associated with the visible church? Even more, can this idea of “regenerate membership” in the visible church be defended as biblical? Given that 1689 federalists have always been convinced that true believers cannot lose their salvation, the very existence of a New Testament command for church discipline and excommunication contradicts their position.
Yet our confession clearly states in chapter 26:
1._____ The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
( Hebrews 12:23; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:10, 22, 23;Ephesians 5:23, 27, 32 )
2._____ All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.
( 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 11:26; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:20-22 )
3._____ The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.
( 1 Corinthians 5; Revelation 2; Revelation 3; Revelation 18:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12; Matthew 16:18; Psalms 72:17;Psalm 102:28; Revelation 12:17 )
So where is the confusion coming from? It’s the difference between de jure and de facto.
[Latin, In law.] Legitimate; lawful, as a Matter of Law. Having complied with all therequirements imposed by law.
De jure is commonly paired withde facto, which means “in fact.” In the course of ordinaryevents, the term de jure is superfluous. For example, in everyday discourse, when onespeaks of a corporation or a government, the understood meaning is a de jurecorporation or a de jure government.
A de jure corporation is one that has completely fulfilled the statutory formalities imposedby state corporation law in order to be granted corporate existence. In comparison, a de facto corporation is one that has acted in Good Faithand would be an ordinarycorporation but for failure to comply with some technical requirements.
[Latin, In fact.] In fact, in deed, actually.
This phrase is used to characterize an officer, a government, a past action, or a state of affairs that must be accepted for all practicalpurposes, but is illegal or illegitimate. Thus,an office, position, or status existing under a claim or color of right, such as a de factocorporation. In this sense it is the contrary of de jure, which means rightful,legitimate, just, or constitutional. Thus, an officer, king, orgovernmentde facto is one thatis in actual possession of the office or supreme power, but by usurpation, or withoutlawful title
Below is the PDF of the paper that Steve Weaver presented at the 66th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in San Diego, California on November 19, 2014.
You may purchase the audio for $3 here.
[source: Steve Weaver]