Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thus Saith the Ross

Bob Ross keeps spewing lies, this time about Reformed Paedobaptists.

Turretinfan has responded:

I answer:

a) In general, Reformed Paedobaptists (PB) distinguish between covenant members and communicant members. Communicant members normally only include those who have demonstrated regeneration by a credible profession of faith.

b) The idea that Reformed PBs "maintain their church membership primarily by infant baptism" is inane. Such a stratagem would work for precisely one generation. In fact, it may sadly be the case that some PB's do not properly remove from their rolls covenant breakers. On the other hand, the primary way in which the membership of PB churches is maintained in Christian lands is by evangelization of covenant members. That is to say, PB churches tend to gain the same communicant members that non-PB churches tend to gain: children raised in the church.

c) While some small minority of Reformed PBs may have taught an idea of baptismal regeneration, it would be improper to characterize such as the standard teaching. Instead, the bigger issue is the question of whether we should assume that the children of believers are regenerate or unregenerate before we see evidence either way. Some say we should assume that they are regenerate, others say contrariwise.

My commentary:

I agree with Turretinfan. That said, Mr. Ross is echoing sentiments that many Baptists today actually believe. That's because Baptists, since the 19th century in particular, have often talked past, not to, their Paedobaptist brothers. The irony with Ross is that he's a former Landmark Baptist, but here, his Landmarkism is showing. The only thing that is missing is the declaration that only Baptists constitute a "true church."

But is that really true? No. Presbyterians admit credo-baptized persons into their membership. None other than John L. Dagg stated that a Paedobaptist paster/TE is to be regarded as a true minister. So, on a strictly Baptist view of the local church's right composition, the Presbyterian local church is a true local church if it contains any credo-baptized persons giving a credible profession of faith - period. It might also shock some Baptists to know that Presbyterians credo-baptize on the mission field. They will even baptize you by immersion if you request it...and, for the record, while I believe that baptism by immersion is the ideal, I am willing to sacrifice mode but not meaning, with respect to baptism.

As to Ross' actual comments, they could equally be used against Baptist churches. Baptists are baptizing way, way too many underage children. On the very day Johnny Hunt was elected SBC president, I understand that his church baptized a fairly good sized number of preschool/1st grade children. That's not historic Baptist tradition.

Which gets us to another point. Historically, Baptists would baptize in the teen to adult range of years, even if our children made professions of faith much eariler. So, in reality, Baptist tradition is not too far away from Paedobaptist tradition. We did (once) distinguish between the "congregation" which included communicant and noncommunicant persons and the membership, which consisted of communicant persons (members baptized upon a credible profession of faith). The problem today is, many Baptist churches no longer do that. However, the point I'm making is that, if you really pay attention, PB's and CB's are not really too far apart on this issue.

Ross is correct to some degree in that there are Paedobaptist Reformed communions which do, in fact, regard their infants as not only covenant members, but presume them regenerate. That would be those following in the Dutch Reformed, Kuyperian tradition. However, the presumption is most Presbyterian churches is that these children are not regenerate, so what Ross is doing is assuming his Baptist ecclesiology, which says that all "members" are "regenerate," and then imputing that to Paedobaptists, such that he assumes, without benefit of argument, that these children are presumed regenerate. No,that would be true of some Reformed Paedobaptists, not all RP's.

I'm a Baptist, not a Presbyterian. I affirm professor's baptism by immersion. However, I'm also a Christian. I believe in truth telling such that Baptists and Presbyterians need to stop talking past each other, and each of us needs to fairly and accurately represent the other side. It's a pity Mr. Ross seems incapable of that much, but then, his truth telling record for the past few years has been on a steady decline.

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