I Met a Bapterian Today, Not really!

While at a local LifeWay Christian bookstore today, I met an 82 year-old Christ follower.  We had a delightful conversation.  We talked life, church, denominations, and some infant baptism.

We talked infant baptism because he told me he grew up Baptist and his father was a Baptist minister.  But he left his Baptist roots for the AME and then Presbyterianism, where he’s now.

I had to ask him, “How was it going from believer’s baptism to infant baptism?”  My new friend, who has invited me to a Saturday morning Bible men study that he still teaches, says it was not much of a problem, even though it’s not explicitly taught in the Bible.

Before he left he said to me, “I still hold to my Baptist roots though I’m now Presbyterian.  You can call me a Bapterian.”

But not to detained him any longer I let that one slide, concluding that there’s no such thing as a Bapterian, one who can be both Baptist and Presbyterian–for there are distinctives that identify them separately and the twain shall not meet.

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5 Responses to I Met a Bapterian Today, Not really!

  1. DaveJ says:

    Maybe we should just call ourselves Christians who are members of a Baptist, Presbyterian or other Church rather than accepting a label like “Baptist” or “Presbyterian”. Otherwise it sounds to outsiders too much like 1Cor1:10-17.
    I agree that unity does not mean uniformity.
    Nevertheless I always have to ask myself what Paul actually meant by “household” in 1Cor1:16. That generally meant everyone who lived in that house (presumably based on the conversion of the patriach and his undertaking on behalf of all who lived wth him).

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    • TC says:

      DaveJ, you’re absolutely correct about being “Christians” first and then worry about labels later.

      I do respect the Presbyterians and the like arguments for the household and so on. For example, Robert Yarbrough, who now teaches at Covenant Theological Seminary here in St. Louis, used to be Southern Baptist. However to teach full time at Covenant he had to become Presbyterian. One day he and I talked for about an hour over the matter and what it was like for him, a Baptist, to make the switch. He argued exactly the same way.

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  2. john.radcliffe@manx.net says:

    Hi TC, It’s been a while since I dropped by, so it’s good to see that you’re still blogging – or should that be “blogging again”?

    Well, while personally I believe that only professing believers should be baptised, I don’t think the issue is sufficiently important that it should be allowed to divide churches (or even denominations).

    Some years ago I was a member of a Baptist church and knew well a family who were Anglicans, and so who believed in infant baptism. However, they chose to belong to the local Baptist church, rather travel to an Anglican church some miles away, because they thought being a part of a local church was more important than non-fundamental doctrinal differences. While that particular Baptist church clearly stated that it was their practice to only baptise professing believers, they did not require members to agree with the doctrinal understanding on which that practice was based.

    I believe this is the right approach – which is also why I don’t have a problem attending a local church that is Presbyterian by confession and baptises children of believers. I do, though, have a problem with the idea that someone should have to “become Presbyterian” in order to teach at a particular establishment.

    I strongly believe that being part of a confessionally-mixed church is good for one’s spiritual health and development. In contrast, confessionally “pure” churches, where ideas are never challenged by people one knows well and has come to respect, tend all too frequently to be a breeding ground for pride and self-righteousness, which can lead to an “us versus them” attitude that demonises those with whom one disagrees. I’ve seen that to be the case far too often during the 40 or so years of my spiritual journey.

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    • TC says:

      John, thanks for dropping by, as you put it. Well, it was hard to stay away from New Leaven. I was missing the dialogues, though virtual. ;-)

      I know a John Bunyan didn’t require rebaptism of paedobaptists and freely admit them into fellowship. John Piper adopted a Bunyan approach when he was pastor at Bethlehem Baptist.

      I don’t know if you’re aware but Grudem has changed his view about the matter in his popular Systematic Theology, which adds to the divide you mentioned.

      First edition (1994):

      This would mean that Baptist churches would have to be willing to allow into membership those who had been baptized as infants and whose conviction of conscience, after careful consideration is that their infant baptism was valid and should not be repeated. Of course, Baptist churches could be free to preach and to attempt to persuade prospective churches members that they should be baptized as believers, but if some, after careful consideration, are simply not persuaded, it does not seem appropriate to make this a barrier to membership.

      2007 edition:

      For someone who holds to believer’s baptism, 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.

      Piper and Grudem had a dialogue going on here and here.

      I have some Presbyterian colleagues and we discuss these matters all the time. As a Baptist I’ve come to appreciate their arguments and practices.

      I have no problem with confessionalism as an attempt to guard what you consider dear to you and those entrusted to your care.

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  3. John Radcliffe says:

    Thanks for the links, TC. Perhaps I should just say that I’m not too surprised to find myself disagreeing with WG and leave it at that.

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