Saturday, June 11, 2005

Societas Hypocritiana


This is a little something aimed at a certain sub-group of Semi-Augustinian Particular Baptists (sometimes erroneously called "Reformed Baptists"), who are this week complaining across several blogs about how others treat them when all they really want to do is constantly yell about how much more faithful to The Plain Meaning of Scripture they are than anyone else. Why do people have to persecute them so? Is it some kind of crime to so obviously love Truth and the Gospel more than the next guy? They really don't get where all this unreasonable opposition to their program is coming from, it seems.

Fortunately, not all Baptists are like these loud, charity-challenged war-mongers--indeed, most Baptists that I have known in real life (especially those closest to me, such as my mother and grandmother) have been fairly well-adjusted individuals who have shown far more Christlikeness than I could ever hope to have myself. Thankfully, amongst our Baptist brethren the real below-the-belt troublemakers are few and far between. But, because these self-willed few and inordinately proud members are so loud, I felt that this tale from the Synod of Arras in the year of the Lord's incarnation 1025 would be a nice counterpoint. It goes to show that sometimes the divisive and unstable people actually learn something and repent and help the unity and peace of the Body to be restored.

One word of clarification: obviously not every position attributed to these eleventh century malcontents is attributable to the aforementioned sub-group of Semi-Augustinian Particular Baptists, but there are enough similarities to make the account interesting nonetheless. Some of these folks today have serious (but quite unrecognized by them) historical roots in Medieval-era Marcionite, Manichaean, and Pelagian tendencies, so this makes their screechy perfectionistic ranting about everyone else's "compromises" more than a little bit "speck / log"-like.

In the following account, note especially the running themes of (1) denial of physical means of grace, (2) denial of authority outside of their own sect's understanding of Scripture, (3) a rigorist-perfectionism that results in tolerance only for people who think exactly like they do about a very narrow set of issues, (4) the radical dichotomizing of Scripture, and (5) the quite plainly works-righteousness mentality that excludes children from the sign and seal of baptism.


One of the disturbing things about this scurrilous attack on Reformed Baptists is that, unless I’m gravely mistaken, Enloe is, along with a number of his cobelligerents, a member of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals (CREC)?

Now, if you go to their official website, notice what you find:


What confession does the CREC subscribe to?
• Westminster Confession of Faith (1647)
• American Westminster Confession of Faith (1788)
• The Three Forms of Unity:
_ Belgic Confession (1561)
_ Heidelberg Catechism (1563)
_ Canons of Dort (1619)
• The London Baptist Confession (1689)
• The Savoy Declaration (1658)
• The Reformed Evangelical Confession (see Article XII)

Why does the CREC allow both Baptist and Paedobaptist churches to become members of the denomination? Aren’t the two schools of thought based on different scriptural paradigms?

The topic of baptism of infants has been a topic of much discussion and debate in the history of the Christian Church. Although we embrace and support gracious faithful discussions and debate, we also recognize that this particular topic is one which we hope maintains the unity of the Spirit and pursues unity of the mind with like-minded faithful churches. The paradigm difference you mention is part of the larger debate. But within the CREC we share a covenantal paradigm.


For someone who plays up submission to ministerial authority, Tim betrays a brazenly insubordinate and utterly disdainful attitude towards the official position of his own denomination regarding Reformed Baptist theology. What accounts for this highly compartmentalized morality? Did he take his membership vows with his fingers crossed behind his back? You really have to wonder what passes for church discipline in the CREC.


  1. This is really quite a silly argument. You seem to be assuming that critiques of Baptist theology are incompatible with loving Baptist brethren and seeking significant unity with them where possible. You don't seem to understand that the CREC is a *confederation*, not a *bureaucracy*. Significant diversity exists within the denomination, and the denomination itself is committed to a desire to reduce visible disunity, to bear with one another's weaknesses while at the same time seeking likemindedness. But finding likemindedness on an issue like baptism requires more than playing games with Greek participles, pretending to know the heart motivations of others, and thinking that this all must be "objectively" solved yesterday or no kind of unity is possible. The CREC is in a sense a compromise position designed to work some things out over the LONG TERM. That's something that fanatical Baptists like the ones my entry was talking about simply don't understand.

    Look, Steve, Wilson himself has written some critical things about Baptist theology, and if anybody is CREC it's Wilson. Wilson debated White on one of the central aspects of FV theology, but Wilson certainly doesn't think White isn't a Christian or that criticizing White's eminently flawed approach to baptism is somehow incompatible with the CREC's motives and goals. Peter Leithart, also CREC, has a book called Against Christianity that explicitly identifies Baptist theology with secular humanism. Yet the good things that Baptists have done and continue to do are not denied, nor are Baptists un-churched. Wilson even tongue-in-cheek says that God knew Presbyterians would be tempted to idolize Spurgeon, so He made him a Baptist. Some services at Christ Church feature infant baptisms (during the service), and some feature believer's baptisms (after the service). Nobody misses the important fact that the elders of Christ Church are paedobaptist and that they think that credobaptism-only is an error. The idea is to work with people patiently and charitably, recognizing that some things take a really long time to hash out.

    Perhaps Wilson is being a hypocrite, too. Or maybe Steve Hays and his over-zealous Baptist friends, who separate at the drop of a hat, are just out to lunch on this one.

  2. And here's something else, Steve. I have made my pastor aware of my conflicts with White and Svendsen and various of their friends. Though it is certainly possible that my elders have not seen everything that I have said in the controversy, I have not been rebuked for what I've been up to, much less told that my views are out of accord with the denomination's standards. Given these facts, it's more likely that you and your zealot friends (many of whom have absolutely no restraints operating on their activities against others) don't understand the CREC's situation than it is that I am in conflict with it.

  3. Sorry, Tim, but this is special pleading.

    In your latest piece alone--not to mention all the other stuff we could pull out of your archives--you deny that Particular Baptists are really Calvinists. You put “scare” quotes around the “Reformed” adjective when applied to Particular Baptists.

    What is more, you invite the reader to compare Particular Baptists to such paradigmatic heretics as Marcionites, Manicaeans, and Pelagians.

    This is utterly and defiantly at odds with your own denomination, in which two Particular Baptist/Congregational creeds are respected as doctrinal standards on par with the Westminster Confession and the Three Forms of Unity.

    Not only does your denomination not classify Particular Baptist theology as comparable to historic heresies of the past, but it positively affirms Particular Baptist theology as an authentic expression of the Reformed faith.

    You public position goes way beyond mere “criticism” of Baptist theology. And this is not a question of whether Baptists have “done good things.”

    Given your central emphasis on ecclesiastical authority, it is perfectly appropriate for me and others to hold you to your own stated standard.

  4. Steve, the title of this post is funny and clever! I continue to chuckle everytime I see it