The Highway
Posted By: Robin What if... - Sun Jun 27, 2021 6:47 PM
My letter, sent today to the leadership of my church:

As I continue my study of Covenant Theology, it seems to make more and more sense to think of all the covenants since the "Covenant of Works" (prior to the Fall in the garden) as "different administrations" of one single "Covenant of Grace" from Adam (after the Fall) to the New Covenant.

This was never adequately explained to me during my days as a Presbyterian. It was just, "We baptize babies because we're Presbyterians." Gimme a break, defend the practice from Scripture or else just shut up. Besides, the word Presbyterian is a reference to a church's polity, not it's doctrine. Covenant Baptist Church is "presbyterian" in that regard for goodnessakes.

But now...

I actually think I finally understand the doctrinal/biblical reasons for "covenant baptism" as well as believers' baptism. And it makes so much sense to me now that I can't dismiss it anymore as "some left-over relic of pre-Reformation Romanism." There are important theological reasons for the practice, it seems to me, and I may find myself at odds with the London Baptist Confession. I would choose the Westminster Confession over the LBC.

Is that a problem for me? Would it jeopardize my good-faith membership at Covenant Baptist Church? Even if not, should I consider a church that more fully embraces the doctrinal position my studies have led me to?

Thanks for a prayerful and plain reply,

I ask the same question now of my friends here at the Highway. With thanks in advance for thoughtful replies.

Posted By: Pilgrim Re: What if... - Sun Jun 27, 2021 9:02 PM
1. In my years of study I came to the conclusion that "covenant baptism" is the more biblical view too.

2. HOWEVER, I part with most, not all, Presbyterians in paedobaptism because they also embrace "Presumptive Regeneration", which means they consider infants of believing (confessing church members) are to be presumed to be saved, or will eventually be saved, or as Berkhof likes to phrase it, they have the 'seed of faith' within them. This to me is a grievous error for it dictates how children are raised. Most of these folks will catechize their children assuring them that God is their "Father" and they his "children" and to pray accordingly. But Scripture is clear that although God is the Creator of all men, He is only a "Father" to those who have been justified in Christ and possess the indwelling Spirit Who leads them in a life of sanctification. Scripture is perspicuous in teaching that ALL are born in sin... ALL are DEAD in sin... NO ONE seeks God... and ALL need to be born from above which is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Israel, as God's chosen nation/people of God for the most part perished in unbelief, yet they were all "covenant children". If one is to presume anything, it is that children are "little vipers in diapers" and are in desperate need of hearing the Gospel and prayers that they may be given mercy and grace by God working in them bringing them to conviction of sin, repentance and faith in Christ. Are covenant children exactly like all other worldly children? No, they are given great privilege for to them is given the MEANS of GRACE, through the preaching and teaching of the Word, the example of having godly parents and being the object of the prayers of the saints that God would save them.

3. Many serious problems and errors flow out of the "presumptive regeneration" position, e.g., Shepherdism, Federal Vision, NPP, etc., and even if these heresies and the like are avoided, the fact remains that the pews become filled with unregenerate members and some occupy pulpits of churches.

4. Lastly, as to counsel in regard to your knowing what to do in your life at this point. My opinion is... Given the horrendous condition of the visible church at this time, which I believe will only continue to worsen, unless you could find a doctrinally solid Presbyterian church and one that avoids all the above problems and one that rightly administers the sacraments and practices church discipline, I would definitely remain in your current Baptist church, which I am assuming again, is doctrinally sound, etc. In my experience, there have been a few good Baptist churches which would allow me to be a member based upon the fact that I have a credible profession of faith and I have been baptized both as an infant and adult, albeit by aspersion. In short, they do not add "immersion" as a requirement for credible salvation and withhold the Lord's Supper to anyone who has not been immersed in baptism, thus making baptism a work added to faith alone.

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Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Mon Jun 28, 2021 7:29 AM
I'd rather stay put if I can, just because changing is painful and difficult. I might be forbidden to teach anymore, though.

In the Presby churches I have first-hand knowledge of, none teach baptismal regeneration! Neither overtly nor by implication. But I understand that some sects probably at least infer it, like Federal Vision. One of my former moderators of the old ExCharisma group (back when it was on YahooGroups) went that way and I removed him. It was heartbreaking, since he had been so influential in bringing many in the old group to the Reformed faith.

It's probably far more rare to find a Baptist church that teaches the doctrines of grace than to find a Presbyterian one that assumes such a heretical view of baptism, isn't that so? Maybe it depends on where you are geographically, perhaps. Here in the South it may be the case.

If I am forbidden to teach by my present church, I may have to look for an alternative, since teaching is part of my call. In fact it's part of everyone's calling in Matt 28:18-20, "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you (verse 20)."

Thanks for your reply, Pilgrim.
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: What if... - Mon Jun 28, 2021 10:08 AM
I don't know if any Presbyterian or Baptist churches teach/practice baptismal regeneration, although I wouldn't be surprised if there are some given the current abandonment of biblical doctrine or even reading the Bible altogether. But, what I did mention in my response was presumptive regeneration which is very widespread in paedobaptist churches. The Baptists have their own unique error in this matter of baptism too. evilgrin I cannot count the number of Baptist churches I have visited where 4-10 year old children are marched to the front of the church where the pastor said something to the effect as, "I understand you all asked Jesus into your heart this morning in Sunday School, right? Then I can tell you that you are all saved today. Now, go home and tell your parents that you want to follow Jesus in baptism and bring back a permission slip and we will baptize you." Yep, no need to get involved in the complexities of presumptive regeneration nope Just declare little children are saved because they uttered some pre-written statement about Jesus. No real conviction of sin by the Spirit! No genuine repentance of sin! No true saving faith expressed! And how could that happen? Faith comes by hearing the Word of God." False so-called 'gospels' have no saving power whatsoever. Thousands of children on both sides are given a false assurance that God loves them and they are going to heaven. igiveup

Thankfully, God has preserved a remnant for Himself where these type of things never occur. Finding a church today is like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Blasphemous 'worship', heresy of myriad forms, ignorance and even disdain of biblical teaching, striving to live a holy life is scoffed at, etc., etc. is what prevails throughout the visible Christian world churches. We need a Reformation that leads to a Revival, especially in the major denominations. For they may be churches that are only backslidden and capable of repenting and returning to their first Love. But..... not my will, but God's will be done. grin
Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Mon Jun 28, 2021 8:59 PM
I got it now... That was one of the big, huge, ginormous issues I had with a former ExCharisma moderator who embraced Federal Vision. They just turned the Reformation on it's head to justify paedocommunion by claiming that entrance into the church (via baptism for covenant children) meant that they were full participants in salvation, with or without faith. That is no more true of baptized kids than it was of circumcised Jews (of any age).

I'm glad the PCA dealt strongly with that heresy years ago, but there are still those in that denomination who think it was "too harsh." As if a call back to Rome should be tolerated in any way. Now it looks like this week's General Assembly may assign the same "tolerance" to same-sex-attracted church officers.

They say, "I was born this way, the attraction is immutable although sinful, so I promise to be celibate and not practice homosexual acts."

I think it's bad theology, actually. First of all, the Apostle Paul didn't call it "sexual orientation" or whatever. His term for it is, unnatural affection. And secondly, it's not immutable!

Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified... (1st Cor 6:11)
They claim positional sanctification while denying practical sanctification. Yes, God loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way. His ongoing work of making us like Jesus is real and unnatural affections are not immutable. They know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. I worry that the PCA values popularity and influence more than faithfulness to her Confession.
Posted By: Tom Re: What if... - Thu Jul 01, 2021 3:58 AM
Hi Robin

It has been quite some time since I last heard from you.
Good to see you post again.

As you probably know I am a Credo Baptist, who one might
call a 1689 Federalist.
I have remained a part of the Highway because quite frankly
my life would be poorer without it.

When it comes to the subject of Credo vs Paedo, I rarely say
much on the topic. Mainly because I would rather learn from studying
both sides. I have found that in doing so, I recognize that in most cases
on other boards, Paedos and Credos speak right past each
other and often use straw men because they do not actually understand
other side.
It is because of that in the last few years, on other boards I have been known
to defend Paedo Baptist’s when they are being misrepresented.
I have actually made a few Paedo friends in the process.

I have learned a lot of what I know about Paedo Baptist’s right
here on the Highway.

I highly recommend studying both sides, from people who know their stuff.
I hope Pilgrim does not mind me sharing with you a site from the 1689 Federalism

Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Thu Jul 01, 2021 6:37 AM
Hi Tom, thanks.

Indeed I have studied both sides, and for years, actually. But I never understood the paedobaptist side of the argument until only very recently. Now that I finally "get it," and understand the biblical and theological reasons for the practice, I am sure enough of it to inform my church leadership about it and accept their decision.
Posted By: Tom Re: What if... - Thu Jul 01, 2021 4:02 PM
Hi Robin

Did you go to the site I told you about?
If you have studied both sides of the equation
I guess you know, that the main difference has to do
with how we understand the covenants.
Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Fri Jul 02, 2021 7:10 AM
I did, and you're right. It was my understanding of the Covenants that convinced me. I had heard all the arguments but only came to really understand them very recently.

In this blog post I explained what I think the differences are.

Now on each of those three major points (hermeneutics, covenant, and RPW) I have come to a completely different conclusion. Read the post, if you please, and comment (here) if you think my description was accurate. I can now defend the paedobaptist position on each of those three points of difference. Although starting a whole 'nother paedo/credo debate on this forum would be unwise and unwanted. The topic has been exhausted IMO.
Posted By: Tom Re: What if... - Fri Jul 02, 2021 4:00 PM
I enjoyed your blog on the issues.
I have never believed in the Paedo position,
But I have not always believed in the what the founders
Of the 1689 LBCF believed on baptism. Though I thought I did.
Two books influenced me ‘The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology by Pascal Denault
And ‘From Adam to Christ’ by Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen.
I have also read some of John Owen’s commentary on Hebrews.
Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Thu Jul 08, 2021 7:28 AM
This Sunday we'll visit a PCA church just across the state line. We're kinda hoping, if the Lord wills, to get out of Georgia and back to Free Florida where there's no income tax, no major election issues (anymore), and a lot fewer state-sponsored attempts to rob people of their liberty.

I would prefer a more traditional or "high Church" liturgy, but the only other "Reformed" church around that town is a CREC church. And while they look good "on paper," they're a haven for heretics (Federal Vision).

Slim pickins these days.
Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Sun Jul 18, 2021 4:56 PM
The good news today is that I'm not on "double secret probation" or anything at my current "Reformed" SBC church, so for now there's no reason to look elsewhere.

I did visit two PCA churches near me. One was when we first moved to this little town 3 years ago. It was barely hanging on, more like a mission church than a particularized PCA church. Two or three people doing all the work, the rest pew-sitters (that according to an Elder there). Last weekend I visited another PCA church, slightly farther away but no big deal as far as distance goes, and found the same thing. One single family does literally all the work there. The teaching, preaching, song service, administration, building maintenance, Ev. Re. Thing. There is one other Elder ("Ruling" Elder") who does who knows what if anything.

In my mind, these are not truly churches at all. If the saints are not being equipped for the work of ministry so that only one or two people are doing everything and everyone else is along for the ride, it's not functioning as a church in any way. Except maybe the administration of the Sacraments.

I wonder how this gets to be the "norm" in churches. It shouldn't be! The harvest is ripe, and the workers few indeed.
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: What if... - Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:25 AM
Perhaps the definition of a "credible profession of faith" is not quite biblical and consequently unbelievers are admitted into membership. scratchchin After all, got to get people into the church to pay the bills, right? evilgrin
Posted By: Tom Re: What if... - Wed Aug 04, 2021 3:15 AM
Hi Robin

I missed the following:
The good news today is that I'm not on "double secret probation" or anything at my current "Reformed" SBC church, so for now there's no reason to look elsewhere.

What is "double secret probation"?

Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Sun Aug 22, 2021 6:57 PM
It's a joke, Tom, there's no such thing.
Posted By: John_C Re: What if... - Tue Aug 24, 2021 3:51 PM
We have several churches of this description in our Presbytery. The given answer is that they are aging with being in rural settings with the ever declining population. But, probably a more valid answer is that the churches had an history of always looking inward, and didn't see the need for outreach. Also, the Reformed has a problem with today's culture. It is not about teaching and learning, but being able to express oneself and be entertained.
Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Tue Aug 24, 2021 8:05 PM
I think that's it, John_C. I miss the high liturgy. Now it's all "praise bands" and feel-good "worship."
Posted By: John_C Re: What if... - Wed Aug 25, 2021 3:21 PM
Robin, that is not an easy question as their are factors involved that needs consideration. First, are you very satisfied and is being fed through your current church, with baptism the only point of disagreement. Do you have children that haven't been baptized? If you have a strong bond of fellowship with your current church. Those needs to be considered. Secondly, is there a Reformed church that teaches covenant theology nearby that you think will strengthened you spiritually. And, how will your family take to a church change? Those of some issues that you will need to consider.
Posted By: Robin Re: What if... - Thu Aug 26, 2021 7:43 AM
Other than the issue of baptism there isn't really anything to justify leaving my current church at all. My kids are grown and gone (both baptized believers, one a missionary). I have a longing to find a traditional Presbyterian church with a liturgy that includes the Creeds and Confessions at least occasionally and respects the RPW more than mine does. But we are being fed and well cared for. I think it would be disruptive to change now.

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