Just Add Water (Epilogue)

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Now that we have spread out into part 5 of a 4-part series, there's a question I did not answer last time because it was much more serious than the other questions which have been added to this discussion by those who disagree with me about baptizing babies.  I have gotten a few versions of the question via e-mail, but I'll put the best version of the question here, and then answer it:

Dear Frank: after reading your argument here for a closed table, what is it you expect the paedobaptizers in the readership of Ref21 to do?  Seriously now: do you expect all of us to go out and get dunked since there is water right here and we are convicted?  Or do you expect that we will refrain from communion until you have properly baptized us?  Or what?  I'm worried that Mark Jones is right and you have effectively kicked us out of Christianity because you don't want us at your communion table. Signed, Pedro Bautista

Dear Pedro --

It's a great question, and I thought the answer was obvious given my first two posts here at Ref21.  However, since it was not, please accept my apology for being unclear, and my explanation.

If what you want is to come to the next local baptist church you encounter and take communion, then yes: I expect you to be properly baptized (by grace, through faith [which God has given], via dunking) to be in communion with baptists.  To expect anything else is simply to say that it doesn't matter what the definition of baptism is and whether or not someone has received such a thing.  But notice the qualifier: if you want to come to a baptist church and take communion.

I wouldn't come to your paedo church and demand communion.  I have, thank God, a local church.  They hold me spiritually and morally accountable there.  They know me and are caring for my soul there.  They are the ones who are the best judge of whether or not I am worthily taking the elements for the sake of remembrance and for the sake of unity.  I expect that I should be able to take communion there -- and I hope that for your sake you have the same thing.

See: the complaint comes from a place that assumes that one should be able to go anywhere and do anything one wants to do when it comes to the Lord's Table, and I don't see that as a reasonable expectation of the NT.  I think the reasonable expectation from the NT is that you should be joined to your local church, under the authority of elders there, and you should follow their teaching and joyfully receive their discipline (which is not always the lash but often more brotherly and conciliatory than that).  In that context, if they are baptizing your babies, and you don't care that they are excluding those babies from the table until they can demonstrate some faith, God bless all of you and your local church.  But: do not expect that my local church will be under the authority of your elders.

The cry for universal unity has some sort of intellectual and theological appeal, I am sure.  But that unity is only obtained in Christ, under Christ, in the final account of things.  Until then, Christ's way for bringing believers together is not at ecumenical pot-luck dinners where nobody knows anybody but everyone claims to have all this unquestionable and unqualified love for everyone else.  Christ's way is at a local church -- and at that church, if you are a paedobaptist, I pray your elders are also.  If they are not, You read the NT and do what's right.

The solution to the disagreements being raised here by Mark Jones are really solutions which are evident in the local church.  If we miss that, we're not really looking at the whole scope of our theology very clearly.

Posted October 6, 2014 @ 8:40 AM by Frank Turk

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