Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Paedobaptist Membership Enhancement Techniques?

Bob L. Ross, who blogs at Calvinist Flyswatter (in which metaphor the Calvinists are the flies to be swatted), writes:
We have contended on this blog that the Pedobaptists maintain their church membership primarily by infant baptism, adding the infants to the church as bonafide "born again" members. This is based on their supposed "covenant" teaching, that infants born to Christian parents are allegedly "covenant children" who inherit the promise of regeneration, supposedly received in early infancy, and signified and sealed by infant baptism.
(all errors and emphasis in original) (link to Ross' inaccurate blog article)

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.



Anonymous said...

I just don't get it.

Am I crude?

When a mother let's it be know that she will have a child in my Church, we all celebrate and prepare for their delivery and cathechism into the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

When perfect strangers or friends of our congregants come through our doors and we discern God has "added" them to us, we have a protocol to establish them in the Truth, the basic oracles of God, Hebrews 6. One sure way we know this, that God has added them to us is their continual presence among us in all that we do as a Church body together.

We baptise infants.

We baptise adults after being taught and sufficient time has lapsed for the Holy Ghost to confirm our words and with that, the sign of the seal of God is then administered, baptism.

Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
Eph 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

I am a part of a group of people that came together from the late 60's and early 70's. We have a consistent increase from within and without, known as "church growth". We have presently young and old aggregately 4 generations of Christian souls in fellowship and communion together! Praise God!!

Of those born into our ranks over the years, some are active still among us. Some have departed, some in peace and some in protest.

Of those added by the Holy Ghost, as much as I can recollect, none have left in separation from us except when they have left to be apart of a Church plant where all of the above is routine.

Am I crude?

I am reminded of two stories in the Bible by this article. One, Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, a court official of some high intelligence and rank in Queen Candace's court and two, the time we read here from Acts 10 this:::>

Act 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.
Act 10:45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
Act 10:46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared,
Act 10:47 "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
Act 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Paul Manata said...

Over in his meta, Ross indicates that "admitting infants" means you "admitted the unregenerate." But, we are told time and time again that the Baptists do not think that they are "baptizing the elect" (or, regenerate). Does he suppose he is baptizing the regenerate?


Because a profession of faith?

But regeneration *preceding* faith is a *Calvinist* idea.

Furthermore, not all who profess are regenerate. How many are? I don't know. There's millions of professing Christians. Has he done the statistical study? What's the probability P that one is regenerate based on profession P*? What is P (R|P*) = ? I'd say it's either low or inscrutable.

And, I agree with you. The majority of "members" in paedobaptist churches are not infants. And, as you point out, *none* of the communicant members in (orthodox) paedobaptist churches are "infants."

You're also correct that we do not baptize (or, the majority do not) because of a "promise" that our "infants" *are* "regenerate." But even if this is assumed, the probability here is low or inscrutable, the *same* with suppositions based on professions. So those PBs who believe their infants are regenerate are in the same boat with Baptists on this score.

And to say that covenant theology is "supposed" is simply rhetoric. I could likewise claim that he baptizes professors alone based on "supposition." He has no command to do so. And he, I assume, reasons from particular *examples* of professors being baptized to universal normativity of the baptism of professors. But of course that's not a trusty inference.

Anyway, that’s my rant! :-)

Turretinfan said...


Thanks for your comments. Incidentally, some time ago I recall hearing you debate this topic. I was edified.


Albert Medina said...

Hi TF,

I tried going through some of the posts in Mr. Bob Ross' blog. The first thing I noticed is that the blog owners dislike (1) the "extreme," "Hybrid Calvinst" teaching of regeneration preceding faith, (2) infant baptism (especially the Reformed Paedobaptitst variety), and finally, as a consequence of the two, (3) the fellowship and activities involving Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist churches in America. I even saw a post attacking Dr. James White, and his understanding of the 1689 LBCF. In many ways, the language used sounds similar to that used by Landmark Baptists. I went to Mr. Ross' website, however, and discovered that he is against the "Hardshellism" of the Primitive Baptists, and Landmark Ecclesiology.

To which "Baptist" group do they belong? I do not seem to see anything in their website that will reveal who EXACTLY they are? Thanks.

Turretinfan said...

In the "Comments Elsewhere" Section, you will find a link to some comments by Gene Bridges. Mr. Bridges indicates that Mr. Ross used to be involved in the Landmark movement. Mr. Bridges may be more well-informed than I am about Mr. Ross's current affiliation.