A few brief thoughts on being Baptist

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A few things:

First, on the basis of the post on paedobaptism and Presbyterianism, Paul Levy should undertake to leave any future instruction of his interns in grammar, spelling, and the like, to others. A failure to do this will evidently hinder a man for life.

Second, the discussion so far has failed to reckon with Congregationalism (or Independency), of which no less a man than John Owen came to be an advocate. One cannot dismiss paedobaptist Independency without facing him.

Third, while I am happy to acknowledge that there is a link between a man's view of the sacraments (or ordinances) and church polity generally (including, in measure, church government), I think that Ben Williamson offers an over-simplification of the matter, perhaps based on flawed assumptions concerning much Baptist polity and practice (recognising that there are Baptists and Baptists, just as there are Presbyterians and Presbyterians, and so I must take care not to assume that all Presbyterians think alike on all things, just as I hope others will recognise that not all who are labelled Baptists share the same convictions, or lack of them). So, to take just the one point on catholicity, a confessing Baptist would profess the following, in language which will be substantially familiar to a confessing Presbyterian or Congregationalist:
1.         The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
I acknowledge that the Baptist does go on to confess that:
2.         All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ, according unto it; not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.
However, I do not think that paragraph 2 somehow undermines or destroys paragraph 1. Indeed, the concern of paragraph 2 is not so much radically to individualise the members as to identify the parts of the whole. (I am not going to enter in to the issue of the nature and efficacy of baptism here.) The chapter in the 1677/1689 Confession on the communion of the saints (however different Baptists might interpret it) also puts something of a spanner in the works of those who would suggest that independence and isolation are synonymous.

Third, I think that most consistent and Biblically-governed Baptists would wish to contend that they have derived their ecclesiology not by tenuous extrapolation from their view of the sacraments, but by searching the Scriptures for what the Lord teaches about the nature, organisation and government of his church. I would hope that my Paedobaptist brothers would affirm the same. We may and do disagree at significant points, but we agree on this: the Lord has spoken concerning it, and therefore it matters.

Fourth, but only incidentally, there are plenty of Baptists who, for various reasons, are not and have no intention of becoming part of the FIEC, including some who do so because of their convictions regarding the church and its government and the nature of relationships between individual congregations.
Posted November 6, 2012 @ 12:27 PM by Jeremy Walker

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