Presbyterian and Baptist Church

So let me get this straight. "Presbyterianism" wasn't able to stop the largest Presbyterian body in the United States from tolerating homosexuality, transgenderism, and even ATHEISM among the clergy, but CREDOBAPTISM is where they draw the line?

Yeah, I am not convinced that your argument is sound.
It doesn't matter if you think it's sound. It's a historical fact that that's how it went down.
 
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I still do not have an answer to my original question: why are there not Presbyterian (as government) and credo Baptist (believers only baptism) churches in history.

The best someone has said is because Congregationalism/Independency goes with credo baptism: both are individualistic choices.

Anyone else out there have an answer?
 
Credo-only baptism is an extreme minority report among the orthodox first wave reformers. It really was not 'mainstreamed' until the non-conformists in England, where independency cropped up as a sizable faction and there were inherently no (or far less) checks against what one minister believed over and against another. For credo-baptists to reverse the tide against their origins, they'd have to self-contentiously reject the sort of religious and civil climate that allowed for their genesis and tighten down their idea of liberty of conscience.

I also think there is just a different way of reading the bible. The same reading that sees the principle of 'household' throughout acts as a continuation of the OT ideas also leads me to fill in the gaps regarding the Church situation in different cities; where Baptists see individuals and local congregations, I see households and presbyteries. Baptists tend to see congregations as a collective group of individuals; presbyterians tend to see congregations as regional church members situated in geographic proximity. We see sessions, more or less, as committees or delegations of presbytery rather than presbytery made up of local sessions -- at least we should if we believe presbytery is the radical court of the church. None of this is meant to be a 'shut case' for the matter; however, I think the way we read our bibles probably has a lot to do with it.
 
I still do not have an answer to my original question
Your question has been given an answer. You may not like the answer or find it satisfactory, but you've been given an answer. The answer has been consistent among many of the folks here, so maybe it's worth considering, even if you don't like it at first glance.
I don't think you're going to get a different answer beyond the historical and cultural factors that have already been mentioned. Baptists were historical and tragically persecuted by larger bodies and churches, their theology is more individualistic (doesn't make them individualists in a general sense, just in that specific way). Both of these things point toward credobaptists consistently adopting congregationalism.
 
I still do not have an answer to my original question: why are there not Presbyterian (as government) and credo Baptist (believers only baptism) churches in history.

The best someone has said is because Congregationalism/Independency goes with credo baptism: both are individualistic choices.

Anyone else out there have an answer?
I'm no church historian or expert systematic theologian but I think it has to do with the fact that credobaptists are more "literalists" or "biblicists" when it comes to Scripture. Drawing "good and necessary consequences" from the text gets too subjective for Baptists ears. So, just like how they "don't see explicit infant baptism in the bible", they also don't see "sessions", "regions" or "presbyteries".

Dan, has a point but I do think what I said is a little different in that there is a different systematic-theological/hermeneutical foundation that leads to a difference in ecclesiology. Therefore, the same literalism that makes Baptists unwilling to accepts children of believers into the church is the same thing that prevents them from structuring their church in a hierarchical fashion.
 
I'm no church historian or expert systematic theologian but I think it has to do with the fact that credobaptists are more "literalists" or "biblicists" when it comes to Scripture. Drawing "good and necessary consequences" from the text gets too subjective for Baptists ears. So, just like how they "don't see explicit infant baptism in the bible", they also don't see "sessions", "regions" or "presbyteries".

Dan, has a point but I do think what I said is a little different in that there is a different systematic-theological/hermeneutical foundation that leads to a difference in ecclesiology. Therefore, the same literalism that makes Baptists unwilling to accepts children of believers into the church is the same thing that prevents them from structuring their church in a hierarchical fashion.
It isn't "literalism" that makes us reject infant baptism. It is that we understand covenant theology. Those who pride themselves on being "literalists" usually wind up in the gross error of dispensationalism. The argument that it is not seen in the NT is the weakest against paedobaptism, and used mostly by those who can't defend credobaptism from an understanding of the covenants.
 
It isn't "literalism" that makes us reject infant baptism. It is that we understand covenant theology. Those who pride themselves on being "literalists" usually wind up in the gross error of dispensationalism. The argument that it is not seen in the NT is the weakest against paedobaptism, and used mostly by those who can't defend credobaptism from an understanding of the covenants.
And a good number of Baptists are also dispensationalists, no? The two often go hand in hand. It would have been more accurate for you to say "me" instead of "us" because I think Erick's comment had broad accuracy but didn't need to be taken as applying to every Baptist, particularly here where credobaptists are more likely to understand and accept some form of covenant theology.

Also, given that the topic at hand is the link between Baptist theology and Baptist ecclesiology, you didn't really address the point Erick was making.
 
I don't mean to be snide, but the existence and current state of the PCUSA is proof that the Presbyterian model is not as "error proof" as you'd like to present here.

Frederick Douglass once said that when the best bodies decompose, they give off the worst odours. The same is true when Presbyterianism goes wrong. While I believe that it is the form of church government most agreeable to scripture, that factor alone is not enough to prevent it from going bad.
 
Credo-only baptism is an extreme minority report among the orthodox first wave reformers. It really was not 'mainstreamed' until the non-conformists in England, where independency cropped up as a sizable faction and there were inherently no (or far less) checks against what one minister believed over and against another. For credo-baptists to reverse the tide against their origins, they'd have to self-contentiously reject the sort of religious and civil climate that allowed for their genesis and tighten down their idea of liberty of conscience.

I also think there is just a different way of reading the bible. The same reading that sees the principle of 'household' throughout acts as a continuation of the OT ideas also leads me to fill in the gaps regarding the Church situation in different cities; where Baptists see individuals and local congregations, I see households and presbyteries. Baptists tend to see congregations as a collective group of individuals; presbyterians tend to see congregations as regional church members situated in geographic proximity. We see sessions, more or less, as committees or delegations of presbytery rather than presbytery made up of local sessions -- at least we should if we believe presbytery is the radical court of the church. None of this is meant to be a 'shut case' for the matter; however, I think the way we read our bibles probably has a lot to do with it.
I think it has more to do with covenants than households. I believe the New Covenant is different from the Old Covenant in that it saves all of its members (Hebrews 8), but I don't see how this impacts on the idea of presbyteries. I think the latter position has more to do with a strict RPW.

So let me get this straight. "Presbyterianism" wasn't able to stop the largest Presbyterian body in the United States from tolerating homosexuality, transgenderism, and even ATHEISM among the clergy, but CREDOBAPTISM is where they draw the line?

Yeah, I am not convinced that your argument is sound.
To be fair, that's where the PCUSA in particular draws the line.
 
And a good number of Baptists are also dispensationalists, no? The two often go hand in hand. It would have been more accurate for you to say "me" instead of "us" because I think Erick's comment had broad accuracy but didn't need to be taken as applying to every Baptist, particularly here where credobaptists are more likely to understand and accept some form of covenant theology.

Also, given that the topic at hand is the link between Baptist theology and Baptist ecclesiology, you didn't really address the point Erick was making.
Not on this board, since it is confessional, and dispensationalism is anti-confessional. What the un-confessional who have taken the name "baptist" care to do isn't really within this discussion.
 
Not on this board, since it is confessional, and dispensationalism is anti-confessional. What the un-confessional who have taken the name "baptist" care to do isn't really within this discussion.
Perhaps the OP could clarify but I think he was referring to Baptists more broadly, not just Baptists who would qualify for admission to this forum. Hence Erick's reply about credobaptists generally being more biblicist is a fair one. If it doesn't apply to you, then that's great!
 
Perhaps the OP could clarify but I think he was referring to Baptists more broadly, not just Baptists who would qualify for admission to this forum. Hence Erick's reply about credobaptists generally being more biblicist is a fair one. If it doesn't apply to you, then that's great!
Yeah, I think JP understood what I was saying. I've just often heard Baptists (even on this forum) say things like "there is no explicit command to baptize babies in the NT".
So even in a reformed sense, the RPW can be used as an argument by Baptists to support credo baptism since that is the "clearer" command in Scripture (i.e. "repent and be baptized")

Ben, sorry if it sounds like I'm painting too broadly. I'm credobaptist in my theology on baptism but I know that my thoughts and my experiences with other Baptists don't encompass all Baptist views and arguments for our theology.
 
It's a fine argument, but it only goes so far. There has to be an understanding of what God meant with His promises to Abraham, whith His prophecies though Jeremiah, of what "A people" means, etc. It's hard to get that when being as literal as possible, and there's no reason to try to force the "most literal" interpretation on passages that are not meant to be taken that way. All the baptists of modern times who have tried that have ended up in serious trouble, denying the historic Confessions (and the meaning of the Scriptures they summarize), and inventing their own thing.
Yeah, I think JP understood what I was saying. I've just often heard Baptists (even on this forum) say things like "there is no explicit command to baptize babies in the NT".
So even in a reformed sense, the RPW can be used as an argument by Baptists to support credo baptism since that is the "clearer" command in Scripture (i.e. "repent and be baptized")

Ben, sorry if it sounds like I'm painting too broadly. I'm credobaptist in my theology on baptism but I know that my thoughts and my experiences with other Baptists don't encompass all Baptist views and arguments for our theology.
 
It's a fine argument, but it only goes so far. There has to be an understanding of what God meant with His promises to Abraham, whith His prophecies though Jeremiah, of what "A people" means, etc. It's hard to get that when being as literal as possible, and there's no reason to try to force the "most literal" interpretation on passages that are not meant to be taken that way. All the baptists of modern times who have tried that have ended up in serious trouble, denying the historic Confessions (and the meaning of the Scriptures they summarize), and inventing their own thing.
You're missing the point. Nobody is disagreeing with your argument. It's just that the discussion is about Baptists more broadly, not Baptists who think like you do. Whether or not you agree with this or that brand of Baptist theology is not what is under discussion here.
 
The simple answer is that Baptists will tell you that they don't see a connectionalism that includes ascending courts (Presbytery, Synod, GA) in the Bible. That goes for Baptists who favor some level of associationalism as well as those who are opposed to it.
 
And a good number of Baptists are also dispensationalists, no? The two often go hand in hand. It would have been more accurate for you to say "me" instead of "us" because I think Erick's comment had broad accuracy but didn't need to be taken as applying to every Baptist, particularly here where credobaptists are more likely to understand and accept some form of covenant theology.

Also, given that the topic at hand is the link between Baptist theology and Baptist ecclesiology, you didn't really address the point Erick was making.
Presbyterians such as Brookes, Scofield, and Chafer did more than any Baptist in spreading dispensationalism in the USA and worldwide. And Presbyterian church government (at least in the larger denominations) did nothing about it other than have a toothless study committee condemn it probably at least a half century too late.

Maybe I just haven't met Baptists who make "dispensational" arguments against pedobaptism, but even the dispensational Baptists I have known, as well as dispensational authors, will primarily make arguments about infant baptism not being in the NT, the newness of the NC, or that only professing believers may join the church rather than making some argument based on dispensationalism. Maybe making arguments based on dispensationalism is the way some indy fundys argue against infant baptism? (To the extent that they would even think it is necessary beyond hollering "CATHOLIC!") By and large they do not write books so I'm less familiar with them.

Interestingly enough, there is an association of dispensational independent Bible churches in my area. I don't know exactly what their polity is, but it sounded in some sense more connectional than what the Southern Baptists do these days. One pastor told me of a case where they were meeting to deal with another pastor who had engaged in (or was engaged in) sexual immorality. I don't know what specific action they were going to take. Maybe expel the church from the association if they didn't discipline/fire the pastor? (That's the way Baptist asssociations used to work--condemn those who are found to be errant in doctrine or practice and remove the church if they do not comply. Some in the SBC are trying to move back in this direction but I don't see how it is going to succeed.) Or maybe it is more of a ministerial fellowship than a fellowship of churches. Most of these congregations are better termed independent than congregational because typically they have elder rule government where the congregation has less say than in Presbyterianism.
 
You're missing the point. Nobody is disagreeing with your argument. It's just that the discussion is about Baptists more broadly, not Baptists who think like you do. Whether or not you agree with this or that brand of Baptist theology is not what is under discussion here.
Perhaps I am missing the point. The OP did say "Historic," which seems to suggest something with a long past. The general trend of fundy-Dispensational baptists is relatively recent, and can't really be appealed to for historic Baptist belief or polity, which is better found in the confessions.
But perhaps I am mistaken, since I'm still unclear what the OP actually wants: how can anyone say why something hasn't happened? We can know what has happened, and we can trace why in some cases, but to know why something has not may not be possible.
 
Perhaps I am missing the point. The OP did say "Historic," which seems to suggest something with a long past. The general trend of fundy-Dispensational baptists is relatively recent, and can't really be appealed to for historic Baptist belief or polity, which is better found in the confessions.
But perhaps I am mistaken, since I'm still unclear what the OP actually wants: how can anyone say why something hasn't happened? We can know what has happened, and we can trace why in some cases, but to know why something has not may not be possible.
I'd be interested to hear - what would stop  you, as a Reformed and confessional Baptist, from embracing a Presbyterian form of government? What considerations, theological or otherwise, weigh against it in your mind?
 
I'd be interested to hear - what would stop  you, as a Reformed and confessional Baptist, from embracing a Presbyterian form of government? What considerations, theological or otherwise, weigh against it in your mind?
From the lesser to the greater:
First, practical considerations: every time churches try to affiliate and associate, splitting ensues. Otherwise there would be but one Prebyterian denomination rather than innumerable ones. When one congregation goes astray, the whole denomination tends to get tarred with the same brush; when the association requires more and more stringent measures subscribed to, congregations leave. This happened with ARBCA and their Divine Impassibility hobbyhorse. And just like in the days after Noah, the tower of unity they seek to build gets confused on obtuse langauge, and they are scattered.

Second, the historic confession I subscribe to forbids it.

Third, that no amount of good and necessary consequence can justify something that is not required. If congregations were all supposed to be in a Presbytery, Revelation would not be addressed to the Seven Churches which are in Asia, but to the Presbytery that is in Asia.
 
I'm no church historian or expert systematic theologian but I think it has to do with the fact that credobaptists are more "literalists" or "biblicists" when it comes to Scripture. Drawing "good and necessary consequences" from the text gets too subjective for Baptists ears. So, just like how they "don't see explicit infant baptism in the bible", they also don't see "sessions", "regions" or "presbyteries".

Dan, has a point but I do think what I said is a little different in that there is a different systematic-theological/hermeneutical foundation that leads to a difference in ecclesiology. Therefore, the same literalism that makes Baptists unwilling to accepts children of believers into the church is the same thing that prevents them from structuring their church in a hierarchical fashion.
Ben - let me get this straight. You took umbrage at this above post which I'm quoting. Then, when asked for your own reasons, you stated that presbyteries aren't mentioned in Scripture.

I really respect your viewpoint though I confess I'm having a bit of a time keeping a straight face at the glaring inconsistency here. The fact of the matter is that you just gave what I would consider a textbook example of the literalism Erick was describing, not to mention restating the exact arguments he gave! You may not like being "tarred" with that brush so to speak, but while I respect the conviction and the earnestness and sincerity with which it is held, I disagree with it and I consider it literalist and biblicist, flowing out of the same mindset that removed "good and necessary consequence" from the Confessions. No consistent Presbyterian would employ that mode of reasoning and I suspect many would consider it biblicist. Tell us you don't like the terms, or tell us how you think that way of approaching Scripture is better. But don't tell us it's wrong to label Baptists as literalist and then give a quintessentially literalist reason for your view, and like it or not, I consider that a literalist reason. It doesn't indicate disrespect from me but it does indicate disagreement. For us, the word presbytery IS in Scripture, right next to the word Trinity.

I really thought you had some different take on the issue that you were going to share with us. And I was looking forward to hearing it. Honestly, I feel a little bit let down and am considering asking for a refund. :p
 
From the lesser to the greater:
First, practical considerations: every time churches try to affiliate and associate, splitting ensues. Otherwise there would be but one Prebyterian denomination rather than innumerable ones. When one congregation goes astray, the whole denomination tends to get tarred with the same brush; when the association requires more and more stringent measures subscribed to, congregations leave. This happened with ARBCA and their Divine Impassibility hobbyhorse. And just like in the days after Noah, the tower of unity they seek to build gets confused on obtuse langauge, and they are scattered.

Second, the historic confession I subscribe to forbids it.

Third, that no amount of good and necessary consequence can justify something that is not required. If congregations were all supposed to be in a Presbytery, Revelation would not be addressed to the Seven Churches which are in Asia, but to the Presbytery that is in Asia.
Circling back to your first two arguments (btw, I hope it was sufficiently clear that my last message was intended to be in good humor and not biting sarcasm), I do have some further questions:

Point #1 - how have Baptists avoided this? There are numerous Baptist denominations, and the SBC is no more free of contention than the PCA. In fact, one could argue that there is greater unity among Presbyterians because we're organized into denominations to begin with.

Point #2 - I not being as familiar with the LBCF, where is this? Is it 26.15 you're referring to?
 
I hope I can put together a coherent post with an answer to this question and address some of the other charges and counter-charges.

The simple answer is that Churches aren't formed by self-evident truths which say: "I like Reformed Baptist theology but believe a Presbyterian government would be good too."

History matters. Confessions matter. The way that Churches form historically and the resources a present Christian reaches back toward matter in sustaining not merely the individual believer but the larger Church as well.

This article may seem out of place but it's important as to why Presbyterians have retained Ruling Elders for centuries, but congregational churches ended up abandoning the office for some time.

This is going to sound pejorative, but a present Reformed Baptist Church, established in the last couple of years or decades, can scarcely be called "historical" simply because the particular congregation adopts a Confession from the 17th Century. I realize there are some centuries-old congregations that have maintained their Confession of the 1689 and I would consider that to be historical in a general sense.

The reason I don't consider the former historical is because a Church is not really in the stream of anything that binds them as long as it is merely held by a particular congregation that hasn't survived generations of trials.

It's easy to point to Presbyterian Churches as unfaithful because one only needs to point at multiple unfaithful congregations in a massive body and compare a single congregation in a Baptist Church as note how faithful that Baptist Church presently is.

I suppose the point I'm making is that you have to have some foundation to build upon for a Church. The PCA, for all its faults, didn't spring up from nothing. It came from a Presbyterian tradition and separated in order to remain faithful to the Great Commission and the Reformed Faith. We have polemical battles all the time within the Church and the consistent "pull" is that our Constitution is the Westminster Standards as well as a long tradition of a form of Church Order that provides for the functioning of a Presbyterian form of government.

What resources would a group of Baptists who "like" Presbyterian government reach for? I don't think people realize how hard it is to fight for Presbyterianism. It's exhausting and frustrating and glorious all at the same time.

To be Presbyterian is, to some extent, being committed to the idea that another minister or elder in error (or his Church) is still part of your Church even when in grave error, and you have to do more than just wash your hands of them without process or because you're convinced that as long as my local congregation is faithful, then it's easy to maintain the faith. When you have to engage in theological argument with other Elders at Presbytery or GA, however, you realize how easy it is to convince a small congregation (or just yourself) and how much work it takes to convince others. The thing that keeps the Presbyterian committed, even as he loses some battles, is that he is committed to a Confession that he thinks is Biblical. Without that Confession, and the line of history behind it, there's just nothing that would sustain a man under those circumstances.

I guess what I'm saying, ultimately, is that enduring institutions are not ultimately formed without some history behind them. I don't wish this upon any Reformed Baptist Churches but the history of congregations even maintaining a plurality of elders isn't good. Presbyterianism variously waxes and wanes in history, but there is a heritage in the sense that our Standards are continuously practiced and thought about (and include more than a Confession but the additional resources in the catechisms) and we have a Book of Church Order that has elements that go back centuries. That's why, even if local congregations and Presbyteries apostatize, there are always Presbyterian bodies that pick up where the others left off.
 
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Third, that no amount of good and necessary consequence can justify something that is not required. If congregations were all supposed to be in a Presbytery, Revelation would not be addressed to the Seven Churches which are in Asia, but to the Presbytery that is in Asia.
OK, but what do you do with the current church in Philadelphia, PA, that has HUNDREDS of congregations?
 
Ben - let me get this straight. You took umbrage at this above post which I'm quoting. Then, when asked for your own reasons, you stated that presbyteries aren't mentioned in Scripture.

I really respect your viewpoint though I confess I'm having a bit of a time keeping a straight face at the glaring inconsistency here. The fact of the matter is that you just gave what I would consider a textbook example of the literalism Erick was describing, not to mention restating the exact arguments he gave! You may not like being "tarred" with that brush so to speak, but while I respect the conviction and the earnestness and sincerity with which it is held, I disagree with it and I consider it literalist and biblicist, flowing out of the same mindset that removed "good and necessary consequence" from the Confessions. No consistent Presbyterian would employ that mode of reasoning and I suspect many would consider it biblicist. Tell us you don't like the terms, or tell us how you think that way of approaching Scripture is better. But don't tell us it's wrong to label Baptists as literalist and then give a quintessentially literalist reason for your view, and like it or not, I consider that a literalist reason. It doesn't indicate disrespect from me but it does indicate disagreement. For us, the word presbytery IS in Scripture, right next to the word Trinity.

I really thought you had some different take on the issue that you were going to share with us. And I was looking forward to hearing it. Honestly, I feel a little bit let down and am considering asking for a refund. :p
That presbyteries are not mentioned in Scripture was NOT my argument. That God does not require it is. It is evident that it is not required, not from some bare lack of mention, but because good and necessary consequence leads us to that conclusion, rather than to forming into associations.
Now that the apostolic office has ceased, each church, as those addressed in Revelation show even while John was still alive, were responsible for their own works.
I also said above that lack of mention is a good argument but one that only goes so far. Still, it must be factored in to any discussion, and to do so doesn't make one a literalist, unless one is hanging one's hat ONLY on a strict, literal meaning of every word. Which is what leads to confusion.

Circling back to your first two arguments (btw, I hope it was sufficiently clear that my last message was intended to be in good humor and not biting sarcasm), I do have some further questions:

Point #1 - how have Baptists avoided this? There are numerous Baptist denominations, and the SBC is no more free of contention than the PCA. In fact, one could argue that there is greater unity among Presbyterians because we're organized into denominations to begin with.

Point #2 - I not being as familiar with the LBCF, where is this? Is it 26.15 you're referring to?
As to point one, all the baptists who seek to form denominations have strayed from their confessional roots, and it leads to chaos. Every time. I keep saying this.
As to point 2, yes.
 
That presbyteries are not mentioned in Scripture was NOT my argument. That God does not require it is. It is evident that it is not required, not from some bare lack of mention, but because good and necessary consequence leads us to that conclusion, rather than to forming into associations.
Now that the apostolic office has ceased, each church, as those addressed in Revelation show even while John was still alive, were responsible for their own works.
I also said above that lack of mention is a good argument but one that only goes so far. Still, it must be factored in to any discussion, and to do so doesn't make one a literalist, unless one is hanging one's hat ONLY on a strict, literal meaning of every word. Which is what leads to confusion.
Ok, thank you for the explanation. That is helpful. My apologies for missing the nuance in your earlier statements.
 
Third, that no amount of good and necessary consequence can justify something that is not required. If congregations were all supposed to be in a Presbytery, Revelation would not be addressed to the Seven Churches which are in Asia, but to the Presbytery that is in Asia.
Just stopping by to clarify a common misconception about Presbyterian polity:
Presbyteries aren't groups of congregations; they are assemblies of elders, or presbyters (1 Timothy 4:14). To write to seven congregations, and to write to a presbytery that oversees those congregations, is not precisely the same thing.

Nevertheless, the Ephesian church alone was almost certainly made up of multiple congregations. As the Westminster Form of Presbyterial Church Government says:

That there were more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus, appears by Acts xx. 31, where is mention of Paul’s continuance at Ephesus in preaching for the space of three years; and Acts xix. 18, 19, 20, where the special effect of the word is mentioned; and ver. 10. and 17. of the same chapter, where is a distinction of Jews and Greeks; and 1 Cor. xvi. 8, 9, where is a reason of Paul’s stay at Ephesus until Pentecost; and ver. 19, where is mention of a particular church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, then at Ephesus, as appears, Acts xviii. 19, 24, 26. All which laid together, doth prove that the multitude of believers did make more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus.
 
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