Differences in practice regarding the "Credible Profession of Faith" in Presbyterian, Anglican, and Baptist denominations

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ERK

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi all,

First I want to say that I am ultimately looking for resources for a seminary research paper. That being said, I do desire to discuss the topic generally with anyone.

What theological underpinnings drive the practice of giving a "profession of faith" for membership in the church in Anglican, Presbyterian, and Baptist denominations?

I recognize that consistency in practice does come into play here as well. The theological presuppositions behind a baptist view of "Regenerate Church Membership" do not always evidence themselves in practice. Some baptist churches treat the act of baptism itself as the completion of the initial profession of faith, some delay the sacramental ministry of the church as well as church discipline until they have adequately tested the genuineness of a persons desire to profess their faith, and then there are those who simply receive someone into the church membership based on their willingness to join (or a parents insistence on the baptism of their child). There are a wide variety of practices in this tradition.

I am learning from experience in the PCA and in the study of other reformed denominations that there is generally a "wider" door to full church membership theologically than that of Baptists, but in practice the requirements are often more elaborate. There are often membership classes with a study of the confession, presbyterianism, and reformed theology. The profession of faith however is given from children who wish to become "Communicant Members", and I am assuming it would ordinarily be the same requirement for new adult believers as well. This profession of faith is then tested for its credibility, but I don't think it is for the same reasons that baptists give. Baptists are working to protect church membership from "false professors", and Presbyterians are working to protect the individual from drinking condemnation on themselves (in the case of a child especially).

I recognize that there is variance in practice in reformed denominations as well. I think I have heard some argue for confessional subscription for members, and of course there are churches who go so far as to open up all of the ministry of the church to all who are present (paedo-communion) in some sense.

This seems to be the case of what I have studied of Anglicanism. Of course the history of Anglicanism shows varied practice, and it seems like a unified anglican doctrine is also harder to pin point. There seems to be an even wider door for membership (if they even practice membership). But I have not found any info yet on what they require of parents who want to baptize their children or new believers who want to join the church with regard to the profession of faith.

I realize that a profession of faith isn't a secret code or magical phrase that grants someone entrance into the ministry of the church, but it is how a believer evidences his or her faith. That evidence comes into play with regard to membership in all aspects for baptists, the Lords Supper (at least) for presbyterians, and I guess it isn't all that important generally for admittance into the anglican church.

Would someone be able to recommend any resources on this discussion, or offer any guidance on where I should be looking?

Thanks!
 
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