Credo-Baptism Answers Baptism and Testimonies

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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I am curious as to where 1689 Federalists stand on the issue of baptizing believers that avoids the half way covenant-esque, testimony driven and revivalistic approach. I.e. have to be of a certain age to have faith with a dramatic conversion story or massive sense of sinfulness before conversion, etc. Don't get me wrong, I am not against dramatic conversions but, in many places this seems to be the blueprint.
I was doing some reading of Riddlebarger and Horton on Modern Reformation and they tend to assume the way avoid the revivalistic tendancies is to be paedo-baptists.
What was the Reformed Baptist response to Finney and his minions of the Second Great Awakening? The first Great Awakening?
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have to be honest, I am not sure what the real concern here is.

I assume you are specifically asking this question of 1689 LBCF affirming Reformed Baptists. If so, the only requirement for credobaptism is:

"Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance."

There is no requirement for a dramatic conversion experience and I am not aware of any Reformed Baptist churches that make one a requirement.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Trent,

1) To clarify, the "dramatic conversion story" idea you refer to wasn't the same thing as the half way covenant. Some New England Congregationalists (not all) required a conversion story. The half-way covenant was a later development in New England (a generation later) that was actually a return back to the Presbyterian practice of allowing adult non-communicant members of the church. So they are different issues. This is a great book on the topic https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/259820.Visible_Saints

2) It should be noted how far Riddlebarger's anti "revivalistic tendancies" go. I supported a local evangelist in Orange County for many years who dedicated his life to sharing the gospel with others (and lived an extremely frugal life with his family to be able to afford to do that full time). He was a member of Riddlebarger's church and the elders were very opposed to this man doing evangelism. It was their opinion that evangelism takes place when people are invited to church to hear a preacher from the pulpit. It's not directly the same issue, but it is related. I would take Riddlebarger's comments with a few spoonfuls of salt.

On a related note, I recommend reading Jonathan Edwards and The New Side/Old Side Presbyterian Schism https://sacrosanctgospel.files.word...than-edwards-old-side_new-side-final-copy.pdf

3) "in many places this seems to be the blueprint." Can you clarify what you are referring to? Your personal experience in 1689 churches, or what?

4) Make sure to review the books of church order for various Presbyterian denominations to see how they handle the question of admitting someone to communicant membership. Excerpts can be found here https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/do-presbyterians-have-regeneration-goggles/ For example, the OPC BCO IV.A.3 states
3. Before permitting anyone to make profession of his faith in the presence of the congregation, the session shall announce his name to the congregation on a prior Lord’s Day in order that the members of the church may have opportunity to acquaint the session with such facts concerning him as may appear to be irreconcilable with a credible profession. In order for the session to assure itself so far as possible that the candidate makes a credible profession, it shall examine him to ascertain that he possesses the doctrinal knowledge requisite for saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, relies on the merits of Christ alone, and is determined by the grace of God to lead a Christian life.
That sounds similar to the 1689 churches I have been a part of. One church asked candidates for membership to write a brief testimony that would incidate the above (i.e. awareness of their sin and their reliance on the merits of Christ alone). That would be published in the bulletin for several weeks prior to the vote to admit them to membership, giving the members time to address any concerns. I don't recall anyone ever being denied membership for lack of a sufficient testimony.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I have to be honest, I am not sure what the real concern here is.

I assume you are specifically asking this question of 1689 LBCF affirming Reformed Baptists. If so, the only requirement for credobaptism is:

"Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance."

There is no requirement for a dramatic conversion experience and I am not aware of any Reformed Baptist churches that make one a requirement.
Hi Patrick,
I understand. My post was sort of rushed before a meeting. I suppose I am figuring out how much revivalism has influenced even me and unfortunately, how much of it ties closely with being a 'baptist.'
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Trent,

1) To clarify, the "dramatic conversion story" idea you refer to wasn't the same thing as the half way covenant. Some New England Congregationalists (not all) required a conversion story. The half-way covenant was a later development in New England (a generation later) that was actually a return back to the Presbyterian practice of allowing adult non-communicant members of the church. So they are different issues. This is a great book on the topic https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/259820.Visible_Saints

2) It should be noted how far Riddlebarger's anti "revivalistic tendancies" go. I supported a local evangelist in Orange County for many years who dedicated his life to sharing the gospel with others (and lived an extremely frugal life with his family to be able to afford to do that full time). He was a member of Riddlebarger's church and the elders were very opposed to this man doing evangelism. It was their opinion that evangelism takes place when people are invited to church to hear a preacher from the pulpit. It's not directly the same issue, but it is related. I would take Riddlebarger's comments with a few spoonfuls of salt.

On a related note, I recommend reading Jonathan Edwards and The New Side/Old Side Presbyterian Schism https://sacrosanctgospel.files.word...than-edwards-old-side_new-side-final-copy.pdf

3) "in many places this seems to be the blueprint." Can you clarify what you are referring to? Your personal experience in 1689 churches, or what?

4) Make sure to review the books of church order for various Presbyterian denominations to see how they handle the question of admitting someone to communicant membership. Excerpts can be found here https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/do-presbyterians-have-regeneration-goggles/ For example, the OPC BCO IV.A.3 states

That sounds similar to the 1689 churches I have been a part of. One church asked candidates for membership to write a brief testimony that would incidate the above (i.e. awareness of their sin and their reliance on the merits of Christ alone). That would be published in the bulletin for several weeks prior to the vote to admit them to membership, giving the members time to address any concerns. I don't recall anyone ever being denied membership for lack of a sufficient testimony.
3). Like I said in the post before this, I am just realizing how much revivalism has permeated everywhere. I am speaking of in general. For instance, I suppose I have in mind the child who hasn't deviated and cannot remember a time he hasn't had faith. Must there be a testimony for baptism? Perhaps I am imputing my own lingering revivalistic tendancies especially on the word 'testimony' in the situation.
 
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Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I am curious as to where 1689 Federalists stand on the issue of baptizing believers that avoids the half way covenant-esque, testimony driven and revivalistic approach. I.e. have to be of a certain age to have faith with a dramatic conversion story or massive sense of sinfulness before conversion, etc. Don't get me wrong, I am not against dramatic conversions but, in many places this seems to be the blueprint.
I was doing some reading of Riddlebarger and Horton on Modern Reformation and they tend to assume the way avoid the revivalistic tendancies is to be paedo-baptists.
What was the Reformed Baptist response to Finney and his minions of the Second Great Awakening? The first Great Awakening?
In general, I think it is safe to say that Baptists were very enthusiastic about the First Great Awakening. Whitefield complained that many of his converts were becoming Baptists.

Modern Reformation and D.G. Hart types are less enthusiastic about it, with Hart at least (I'm not sure about MR) not even really liking the Puritans.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
3). Like I said in the post before this, I am just realizing how much revivalism has permeated everywhere. I am speaking of in general. For instance, I suppose I have in mind the child who hasn't deviated and cannot remember a time he hasn't had faith. Must there be a testimony for baptism? Perhaps I am imputing my own lingering revivalistic tendancies on the situation.
What are you referring to as a testimony? Maybe we should start there. Are you in a church that expects dramatic testimonies of the sort that you'd hear from someone who even the world (at least until yesterday) would see as immoral?

Do you believe that it is possible that someone could always have had the sense that he is a sinner in need of a savior?

Not all faith is saving faith. It is not enough to simply believe certain facts about Christ.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
What are you referring to as a testimony? Maybe we should start there. Are you in a church that expects dramatic testimonies of the sort that you'd hear from someone who even the world (at least until yesterday) would see as immoral?

Do you believe that it is possible that someone could always have had the sense that he is a sinner in need of a savior?

Not all faith is saving faith. It is not enough to simply believe certain facts about Christ.
I suppose when I think of it, I have tended to assume it includes specific or exact time and/or place where one is overwhelmed and thus emotional with their sinfulness and shortly thereafter have their conscience assuaged through faith and be free from certain sins.
Now, if anyone asks, its not about me. Mine is closer to those 'dramatic' ones, save maybe the third and last portion.
 
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Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I suppose when I think of it, I have tended to assume it includes specific or exact time and/or place where one is overwhelmed and thus emotional with their sinfulness and shortly thereafter have their conscience assuaged through faith and be free from certain sins.
Now, if anyone asks, its not about me. Mine is closer to those 'dramatic' ones.
Some extreme revivalists have said that if you don't know the day and the hour, you aren't saved. (Perhaps conveniently, he can help you clear that up right now if you can't name the day and the hour.) I didn't grow up in any sort of evangelicalism so I really haven't been exposed to that. But I've heard it so many times that it must be rather widespread, although I'd think it was more common a few decades ago than it is now.

What we are referring to as being prerequisite to baptism (a testimony, if you wish) is orthodox doctrine and a sense that the candidate became aware of his personal need of Christ and has trusted in Him. For some people it is very dramatic. For others, it is more gradual and cannot be narrowed down to a specific time or place. It is not really all that different than what many evangelical Presbyterians require of those who are being admitted to communicant membership, although from what I understand, the requirement of a public profession of faith following an examination by the session in some Presbyterian denominations was largely the result of the First Great Awakening.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I can't add anything to what Brandon and Chris have said except some more personal observation: very few of the people I know in my circles have had a dramatic moment of conversion. More often, it is something like they have heard a sermon, or read a passage, and realize after the fact "yes of course." And then they examine themselves and learn more, became convicted, trusted Christ. Some say that when they read Heidelberg #1 for the first time it was a "click" moment.

In my own case I think I had it backward from how it usually is described. I believed God existed because for almost 40 years I did what I could to hold him off and keep him from bothering me. I read Scripture, heard sermons (and criticized the lazy happy-clappy preachers I heard). Sometimes a sermon would sting and I'd spend days figuring out how it ought not to apply to me.

Then one day the Spirit quietly said, "game over." No drama. I knew the jig was up. My knee bowed.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
At our church all the public testimony that is required are a few questions asked of the candidate just before the immersion: "Are you trusting in Christ alone for the salvation of your sins?" or something like that. The minister asks, the subject replies "yes," and splash!
For weeks/months before that the person has been part of the life of the church, and their testimony is known and their lives have been examined to see if they behave like Christians. By then they've met multiple times with the elders, and anyone who wants to ask more personal probing questions has had opportunity.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
I.e. have to be of a certain age to have faith with a dramatic conversion story or massive sense of sinfulness before conversion, etc. Don't get me wrong, I am not against dramatic conversions but, in many places this seems to be the blueprint.

There is no requirement for a dramatic conversion experience and I am not aware of any Reformed Baptist churches that make one a requirement.

I suppose when I think of it, I have tended to assume it includes specific or exact time and/or place where one is overwhelmed and thus emotional with their sinfulness and shortly thereafter have their conscience assuaged through faith and be free from certain sins.

This made me think about my daughter (12 y/o) who expressed the desire to be baptized recently. I contacted my pastor to learn what the church's process was for examination and was given a workbook that SBC's LifeWay publishes and told to go through it with her and when I think she is ready to schedule a time when she could talk with the pastor and record her testimony (my church video records testimonies in advance and plays them to the congregation on the day of baptism). I was also informed that fathers are encouraged to be the ones to baptize their children in front of the congregation with the reasoning that they are the child's "first pastor", which for the sake of this thread I'll refrain from commenting on further only to say I will not be doing so.

Well, I spent several afternoons with my daughter going through this LifeWay workbook as a supplement to lengthy discussions her and I had already had and I was surprised at how it consistently presupposes there being a dramatic conversion experience in the life of the child. The lesson on sharing one's testimony includes a fill-in-the-blank outline that is templated around this assumption. Knowing that this testimony worksheet is supposed to be brought to the meeting with the pastor I decided to have my daughter familiarize herself with it and look it over. I watched as she sat camped out on several sections of it looking like she was struggling with her Algebra homework. I let this go on for a bit when she finally commented that she's supposed to fill out the exact moment she believed and describe the date, place, and people who were there at that moment and that she didn't know what to put since she couldn't ever remember a time in her life when she didn't believe.

God pours out his grace on people differently. The way God has worked in my daughter's life looks very similar to the way He has worked in my wife's life. I on the other hand wasn't raised in a Christian home and it wasn't until I was in my mid-20s that I heard the gospel for the first time. My testimony of God's grace in my life is much different.

The SBC is a diverse association to say the least, but many do in fact see the "dramatic conversion experience" as being normative when in fact it is not.
 
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