Wednesday, August 22, 2007

John Owen-"Grounds and reasons of nonconformity" and Baptism

There has been a renewed interest on some blogs about how baptism affects fellowship, church membership and communion. Here are some links (which will also link to other comments as well):
John Piper
Wayne Grudem comments posted on another blog (with permission.)
Baptizoblogodebate Roundup
Ligon Duncan joins in

Just do a search for "john piper paedobaptist membership" and you'll get plenty. Now not all the discussion is Piper and Grudem.

A while back Bethlehem Baptist (Where Piper is the pastor) did consider allowing Paedobaptists-This is Worldmagblog's first mention of it. Eventually it was rejected, but it did receive lots of debate. (I searched Bethlehem Baptist's site and Piper's Desiring God for references, but found none.

The Presbyterian Church in America, of which I am a member, teaches and practices paedobaptism. We also allow Baptists who don't hold to it to be members. For the most part I believe a Baptist would be allowed to take communion in a PCA church.

The main reason for this, as far as I understand it, is so that we are not adding conditions to these that Scripture does not add. As baptism does not secure salvation, it is not an essential in that sense. We are not to bind people's consciences with what is not explicitly commanded in Scripture. (Yes, baptism is commanded in the Bible, but it is nowhere said to be necessary for salvation. There are those who hold to baptism being essential, but they do so by inference, and that is a separate issue. Here I am referring to Baptists who do not hold to baptismal regeneration.)

Which brings me to John Owen.
In his work, Discourse concerning Evangelical Love, Church Peace, and Unity he does speak of these things. In fact at the time he was involved in addressing these issues, and he had marvelous insight that I believe we should listen to today. Here's Chapter V, the most relevant chapter in the work. I give you that link for context of this statement by Owen, to which I say, "Amen."

...for in his worship we are forbidden to add to the things that he hath appointed no less than to pretend commands from him which he hath not given. He, therefore, who professeth and pleadeth his willingness to observe and do in church-communion whatever Christ hath instituted and commanded cannot regularly be refused the communion of any church, under any pretence of his refusal to do other things which confessedly are not so required.

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Best and Worst of Slaves of Righteousness

I don't totally ignore when people tag me, but I ususally answer in the comments section. Sometimes I don't respond, because it doesn't fit in with why I blog. But anyway, that's about to end as I respond to the tag by Jeremy at Doxoblogy. He's posted Best and Worst of the Doxoblogist.

So here's my version.
My Worst Post: I'm not sure--possibly this one, where I mention the PCA General Asembly, but don't really mention the big issue at GA. It could one of the ones where I offer excuses why I haven't blogged for awhile. (Other than the ones after I was in the hospital.)
You decide.

My Best Post: While it only garnered 2 comments online (and my response to those comments), it was linked to by those who didn't comment. I also received comments on it in person from people who read it. It seemed to get a very positive response-I called it God's Providence - He is Good! It was based on my health crisis last fall, and how God figured into it--and He is good!

My Changed His Mind post: Hmm, tricky one--I did remove one post because I changed my mond the next day once I had new information. It didn't receive any comments. I don't remember what it was about though. If I do change my mind on anything, and have blogged about it--I will either edit that post or write a new one.

My most comments post: This post on Ephesians 2:1-7 received 40 comments. Most of them were not about the passage or the post, but rather a debate with an evolutionist. Others jumped in and helped.

Who do I tag with this? Anyone who reads this on at least a weekly basis. You know who you are...

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