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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5 Comments:

Anonymous David said...

Looking for this perhaps? Baptism & Church Membership

Probably the best summary I've seen of this present round of debate is Baptizoblogodebate Roundup (with Breaking News)

2:00 PM  
Blogger Team Tominthebox News Network said...

You mentioned the PCA "for the most part" not restricting a credo-baptist from the Lord's Table. I know of no PCA church that restricts the table to a credo-baptist merely upon those grounds.

Membership is also not restricted to paedo-baptists alone in the PCA. But non paedo-baptists cannot hold elected office within the church.

11:14 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

I don't know of any PCA church that would restrict a credo-baptist from the Lord's Table either, but just in case there's one somewhere that does.

I am also aware that PCA membership is not restricted to paedo-baptists. It was something that was mentioned in the membership class I took, and we do have non-paedobaptists in our congregation. I have mentioned it here before. But thanks for clarifying it here. I've mentioned it on other blogs recently, but may have forgotten to clarify that here.

A Baptist friend of mine didn't get that a credobaptist could become a member, but couldn't hold office--he considered it "Two-tier" membership.

In a way he's right--but that is Biblical because the Bible does tell us that elders are held to a higher level of accountability.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

We have a few credo-Baptist members in our OPC congregation. They are free, of course, to discuss it with anyone they choose. They are not banned or barred from any lay ministry in the church, nor are they prohibited from the Lord's Table. They are only restricted from opposing the elders on the issue, or otherwise stirring up dissension within the congregation.

4:15 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

Pretty much the same in the PCA.

9:27 PM  

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