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Required reading for CEFC members

August 9, 2007

Piper defends our compromise on baptism.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bethlen Gabor permalink
    August 9, 2007 8:50 pm

    Good one. We’ve wrestled with this same issue from the Presbyterian end.

  2. Ebenezer permalink
    August 10, 2007 12:19 am

    This is very interesting! I am new to thinking through this issue, so it was particularly good for me to read. I thought I agreed with Piper, until I read Grudem’s response. Now I’m a bit conflicted. I understand Grudem’s concern regarding granting church membership to paedobaptists. Grudem says,

    “…from a believer’s baptism position, genuine baptism has to follow a personal profession of faith. So how can believer’s baptism advocates in good conscience say that infant baptism is also a valid form of baptism?”

    Granting church membership (for which baptism is a prerequisite) is, in essence, saying that the new members (or all members of the church, for that matter) have already been baptized, right? As Grudem goes on to say,

    “For someone who holds to believer’s baptism, and who holds that baptism is necessary for church membership…admitting to church membership someone who has not been baptized upon profession of faith, and telling the person that he or she never has to be baptized as a believer, is really giving up one’s view on the proper nature of baptism. It is saying that infant baptism really is valid baptism! But then how could anyone who holds to this position tell anyone who had been baptized as an infant that he or she still needed to be baptized as a believer?”

    Like I said, I’m new at thinking through this issue, so please help me understand! Can a church really embrace paedobaptists as members while NOT agreeing that their form of baptism is the true biblical model, if baptism is a hard-and-fast requirement for membership?

  3. August 10, 2007 8:53 pm

    I haven’t yet taken the time to read either Piper or Grudem’s response, but I’m always up for offering an opinion!

    From my perspective, the members of the local, visible church should match as closely as possible the members of the invisible church (i.e. the true church, the elect of God). In other words, all those who are truly born of the Spirit are eligible for membership in the local church. That includes those who have a wrong view of baptism in the sense of the paedo/credo debate. And in fact, our church does not make believer’s baptism a condition of membership.

    However, I agree with Grudem’s statement above, that “telling the person that he or she never has to be baptized as a believer, is really giving up one’s view on the proper nature of baptism.” While I do not believe that we should divide fellowship over the issue, I think it is also incumbent on credobaptists (those who teach believer’s baptism) to encourage their paedobaptist brothers to practice baptism in a biblical fashion, and we should argue strongly for that point.

    Our paedobaptist friends are also under obligation to follow the dictates of their own consciences that what they practice is what Scripture teaches. We credobaptists should understand that and be charitable; we should view their refusal to undergo believer’s baptism as an attempt at obedience, not as high-handed sin.

  4. Ebenezer permalink
    August 11, 2007 11:56 am

    Thank you, Eric. Your comments really helped clarify things for me. I certainly agree that believers who practice infant baptism are not sining by holding to their understanding of baptism, and that they are indeed brothers/sisters in Christ. I appreciate your last paragraph, and feel that is important to remember! And it helps me to know that believer’s baptism is not a requirement for membership at our church. That fact invalidates my apprehension about the possibility of endorsing infant baptism by granting membership to paedobaptists . Thank you for taking the time to explain all of this!

  5. August 11, 2007 12:58 pm

    Here’s my addendum to Eric’s good answer.

    Spiritual baptism is a prerequisite for membership in the invisible body of Christ. But water baptism done in the mode we believe to be biblical is not a requirement for local church membership. We endeavour to administer the ordinances in a way that best portrays the spiritual reality. But if someone understands the symbolism differently than we do, I’m not going to deny them membership over it.

    I don’t tell people that they never have to be baptized as believer. I tell them that they should be. But if they disagree with me, I won’t exclude them from full membership in the church.

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