Universalism, Racism... Paedobaptism?

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In a recent column over at 9 Marks, our good friend Mark Dever offered a list of things he can and cannot abide with in a church.  Only three items fell into Dever's "can't abide with them" category: universalism, racism, and paedobaptism.  Wow.  We paedobaptists are accustomed to abuse from our Baptist friends, but things are really getting out of hand.  Items that were more tolerable to Mark included women elders, altar calls, no church membership, and human sacrifice (okay, I'm joking about the last one).  But I wouldn't have been surprised if human sacrifice had rated higher than infant baptism.  Universalism, racism, infant baptism -- really?

 

I do not for a second doubt Mark's sincerity in expressing his friendship and admiration for many paedobaptist brothers, since I have experienced this first hand.  But I wonder, are we really "Together for the Gospel" when some of us are denied table fellowship?  Does this not erect a Christ+ principle like that which Paul so vehemently opposed in Galatians 2 (particularly given the circumcision-baptism link)?  While I appreciate Mark's consistency and integrity, which I believe are motivating him here, I have some concern that this charged rhetoric (universalism, racism, paedobaptism?) occurs at the very moment when I believe that the broader evangelical movement needs to be ministered to by a unified Reformed evangelical front.  Since Mark was writing about pastoral prudence, I would ask, "Is now the time for craedo-paedo jousting?"

Fifty years ago, Martyn Lloyd-Jones separated from Anglicans who accepted baptism in the place of personal belief in Christ and the Bible.  Some people think he was wrong to do this, but I think Lloyd-Jones was right.  But are our Baptist friends now taking this a step further?  Even if we believe in Christ and the Bible, but hold to a different practice of baptism, are Reformed paedobaptists to be denied as Christians in good standing?  This may not be the intent, but is it not the effect of a Christ + craedobaptist doctrine of table fellowship?  And might such a fundamental division among Bible believing, sovereign grace loving, God fearing, cross-relying friends inflict serious damage at a moment when the true evangelical cause is foundering in America?

Mark will argue that we cannot be admitted because we are not baptized.  But the fact is that we are baptized.  While we all hold our inferences dearly, it must be admitted that the Bible does not spell out the subjects or the mode of baptism in crystal-clear terms (with the direct language, say, of Paul's prohibition of women elders). Moreover, many of us paedo-baptists were baptized as adults, on profession of faith, by the mode of sprinkling (I am one of these).  Yet we still will be denied togetherness at the gospel table of our Baptist friends.   

My point in this post is not to fire back -- were that my goal I would be trying to point out how craedobaptists are in unrepented sin.  Rather, my plea is that it might be good to rethink this matter.  I know that traditional Baptist doctrine does not accept the validity of other baptisms at all -- but is this warranted?  I know that based on this tenet, Baptists are being consistent by not allowing paedobaptists to the Lord's Table.  Yet I would beg reconsideration by my brothers and friends, wondering if the implications have been thought through clearly.

Posted March 20, 2009 @ 2:58 AM by Rick Phillips
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