Are the children of believers members of the visible Church?

Discussion in 'Credo-Baptism Answers' started by zsmcd, Feb 8, 2017.

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  1. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Are the children of believers members of the visible church? Should they be counted as members of the local church despite their not being baptized?

    I am asking because a friend of mine, who is a Calvinistic Baptist, had admitted to me that he considers his children as being members in the visible church and as members of the local church, but that he would still say that baptism should be administered to them only upon a credible profession of faith. I had never heard a Baptist take this position so I thought I'd see if anyone else holds to the same. It seems that his position derivers from the fact that he holds to a WCF style of covenant theology that affirms the covenantal standing of the children of believers, but he does not see baptism as being the New Covenant equivalent of circumcision. He likewise would consider his children to be Christians. Thoughts?
     
  2. Thinkingaloud

    Thinkingaloud Puritan Board Freshman

    The views sound similar to my own. On a practical level I struggle to see how children are not part of the visible church. They attend church, they are supported and prayed for by the church members, they often participate in services and events - they're part of the fabric of church life. They are generally there because of their parents profession of faith. At some stage though they must either make the faith their own or reject it in which case they are either baptised or they leave the church. That being said children can certainly make a believable profession of faith - in some cases very early on. The earliest example I know in Baptist circles is of a 3 year old being baptised. Where I might differ with your friend is viewing my child (currently 1 year) as a Christian. I would say he's rather being brought up in the Christian faith in the hope he will become a Christian (ie know Christ for himself).
     
  3. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    You posted this in the credobaptism answers forum, so I assume you are asking Baptists. One of the traditional Baptist distinctives has always been regenerate church membership. While it is not possible to always correctly discern this, obviously if a child has yet to make a profession of faith and be baptized, it would seem that they would not meet this criteria.
     
  4. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Are those that attend the gathering of the saints week in and week out "visible" members if they do not partake in communion?
     
  5. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I figured this out AFTER I voted. I guess you should not count my vote.
     
  6. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Zack, no. They are not. Baptists don't like this question because it makes them feel uncomfortable. That is more of an indictment of their lack of theological conviction than anything else. Baptists do, indeed, believe in a regenerate church membership. This does not mean that children in the church do not benefit from the body. They do. But until they have been converted they are not Christ's possession, ergo they are not members of the Church.
     
  7. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Is this thread open to anyone? I posted something yesterday and don't see it now.
     
  8. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    Ditto!
     
  9. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    I did so as Bill above, where does one go to follow the thread?
     
  10. KGP

    KGP Puritan Board Freshman

    The brethren churches have a way of meeting that highlights this answer - at least at the two assemblies I have visited in the past; there is a different section for visitors and the unbaptized children of believers sit their as well; where they get a front row seat to the worship of the day - the prayer meeting around the table, the partaking of the bread and the cup. After which for any Sunday school lesson or preaching they are permitted to sit anywhere; with their family. So the children are partakers in the benefits of the churches teaching ministry but they are not apart of the church - indicated by their non participation in the Lords supper - but even then they get the blessing of viewing the prayer meeting at the Lords Table - The men leading acapella hymns and prayers of thanksgiving and remembrance for the Lord and his sacrifice. It shows what the church is like and gives a very clear indication of the distinction between those inside and outside of Christ.

    As visitors; it left a very strong impression on me, one I'll never forget. Evangelical my whole life; and I learned more about the Lord's table and about the sacrifice of Jesus from one Sunday with the brethren than I did all my years growing up as a church kid. The form of their lords day meeting is itself a powerful sermon, it certainly displays the gospel compellingly to those who would be visiting.






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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
  11. Unworthy_Servant

    Unworthy_Servant Puritan Board Freshman

    "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."
    ( 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 11:26; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:20-22 )
    1689 LBC Chapter 26

    Only believers professing faith in Jesus Christ are members of the visible church. Thus, the child of the believer is only part of the visible church if they profess faith in Christ.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
  12. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Freshman

    Please bear with me. I mean no disrespect. But we have people who have been sitting in the pews for years who match that same description, but they've never requested to be baptized, and they've never requested to be made members.

    They don't take Communion, or vote on Congregational matters. But they bring food to the potlucks, attend all the services, fellowship together often. They've been told the importance of baptism. They've been told the importance of church membership. But... they just don't do it. Every church has them.

    Should these just be assumed to be members of the visible church too?

    I am not being facetious or anything. I honestly want to know.
     
  13. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    I want to ask a question. Are believers' children saved if they die without a profession of faith or baptism?
     
  14. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Sean,

    I need more context about these people you are referring to, but by your description its seems as though they are adults. Are these individuals who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ but steadfastly refuse to be baptized, even after being confronted by your pastor and elders, especially a church in which James White is an elder? Baptism is not optional for a believer. It is a serious sin. While water baptism does not save, refusing to be baptized would cause me to question their commitment to Christ. The church membership issue, while not rising to the level of baptism, nonetheless is serious.

    As far as your comment that "every church has them", that is not to be considered as normative. Church discipline cannot be exercised against non-members, but such individuals should be sternly warned that their behavior is sinful and perilous to their claim as a believer.
     
  15. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Per the rules for this forum:

    "A place where only Credo-Baptists may answer questions posed regarding the Confessional understanding of the Ordinance of Baptism."
     
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