Question on RCC infant baptism

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beloved7

Puritan Board Freshman
Do Presbyterians recognize it? Would a Presbyterian church, such as the PCA have a new member get baptized or would the RCC baptism be accepted as valid?

This is not for arguments sake, I'm genuinely curious.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
In most PCA and OPC churches, a RCC baptism would probably be accepted as valid. However, there are a minority of churches that would not accept it. This reflects a long-standing debate between the Northern Presbyterians (who generally, but not always, accepted RCC baptism as valid) and the Southern Presbyterians (who generally, but not always, rejected RCC baptism).
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Junior
Others are welcome to correct me, but as far as I can tell from my studies it seems that in the main, most (or many) Presbyterians accept any baptism that was done by water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The person (or organization) doing the baptism is not important. The Triune Formula is important.

SOME Presbyterians do not, based on the idea that the Sacraments must be administered by a Minister of the Gospel, and Rome hasn't had any Ministers of the Gospel for a few centuries because it's not a true church anymore, but rather, an apostate body.

As a Baptist, I have a laundry list of reasons why I would consider someone sprinkled, poured, or dunked in the RCC to be unbaptized and would need to be baptized. But Presbyterians by nature wouldn't consider many of those concerns anyway.
 

beloved7

Puritan Board Freshman
Others are welcome to correct me, but as far as I can tell from my studies it seems that in the main, most (or many) Presbyterians accept any baptism that was done by water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The person (or organization) doing the baptism is not important. The Triune Formula is important.

SOME Presbyterians do not, based on the idea that the Sacraments must be administered by a Minister of the Gospel, and Rome hasn't had any Ministers of the Gospel for a few centuries because it's not a true church anymore, but rather, an apostate body.

As a Baptist, I have a laundry list of reasons why I would consider someone sprinkled, poured, or dunked in the RCC to be unbaptized and would need to be baptized. But Presbyterians by nature wouldn't consider many of those concerns anyway.
We're in agreement. As a Particular Baptist myself, I don't recognize my RCC baptism either, and was truely baptized in 2014. Just curious what others positions are, particularly of those who also hold to covenant theology.
 
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earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Do Presbyterians recognize it? Would a Presbyterian church, such as the PCA have a new member get baptized or would the RCC baptism be accepted as valid?

This is not for arguments sake, I'm genuinely curious.

Our Lord, in His providence, did not reform the church until the essential of faith alone was pushed by The Reformers.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you for this, very thorough resource brother.

Except in its highly truncated and highly inadequate description of the Southern Presbyterian position. There is no awareness of Thornwell's actual arguments. See what Matthew MacMahon linked to above for a much better rendition of the Southern position, and see also the articles of Ryan McGraw for a modern-day defense of the Southern position.
 

beloved7

Puritan Board Freshman
Except in its highly truncated and highly inadequate description of the Southern Presbyterian position. There is no awareness of Thornwell's actual arguments. See what Matthew MacMahon linked to above for a much better rendition of the Southern position, and see also the articles of Ryan McGraw for a modern-day defense of the Southern position.
I will certainly do that thank you brother.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Except in its highly truncated and highly inadequate description of the Southern Presbyterian position. There is no awareness of Thornwell's actual arguments.

I don't think it was meant to be. But it is a pretty good summary of what was the historic (dare I say "universal"?) Reformed position all the way up to Thornwell.
 

Username4000

Puritan Board Freshman
Sean! Didn't realize you were on here.

Anyway, the question also might involve baptisms by improper administrators. In churches like the old Mars Hill, the person baptizing you was not necessarily an elder, but someone who was influential in your walk, whether an elder, community group leader, spouse, or parent. It was certainly under the authority of the elders, and with their consent, but they weren't doing the dunking. Should we also question the validity of these baptisms?
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Wasn't this one of the distinguishing points between the Reformed and the Anabaptists "re-baptists." One would have to engage the WCF and its instruction for one baptism and the efficacy resting in Christ rather than the qualifications of the undershepherd.
 

beloved7

Puritan Board Freshman
Wasn't this one of the distinguishing points between the Reformed and the Anabaptists "re-baptists." One would have to engage the WCF and its instruction for one baptism and the efficacy resting in Christ rather than the qualifications of the undershepherd.
It really depends on what is considered rebaptizing; I've only been baptized once as I don't recognize the RCC baptism. Though others would charge me as an Anabaptist, which I would not miss any sleep over.

If a new member to the PCA in the south was instructed to be baptized again even though they were a former baptized RC, would that make them an Anabaptist? It depends who you ask I suppose.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Wasn't this one of the distinguishing points between the Reformed and the Anabaptists "re-baptists." One would have to engage the WCF and its instruction for one baptism and the efficacy resting in Christ rather than the qualifications of the undershepherd.

That is moot for the one who believes in the invalidity of papist baptism. In their view, the individual has not yet been baptized. So it is not a question of rebaptism because their argument strikes at the validity of the papist baptism. If it is invalid, then it is no baptism at all. People on both sides believe what the Standards say that we ought to be baptized once.

This also isn't comparable to the donatist controversy. Because the individual is not in question as to the administration but rather if he has been given authority from God. As well as, and more in view, is the institution of the papacy as a whole. The holiness of the individual is a question that really has no bearing on this conversation. At least from the one who believes in the invalidity of papist baptism.

This (donatist argument), however, is often used as an argument against that position, but it is a strawman.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
If a new member to the PCA in the south was instructed to be baptized again even though they were a former baptized RC, would that make them an Anabaptist? It depends who you ask I suppose.
That was me, except the question involved a demonstrably unfaithful mainline pastor. In the deep south PCA church where I raised the question about my own baptism, I was directed to the WCF.
This (donatist argument), however, is often used as an argument against that position, but it is a strawman.
I really doubt the Westminster divines were donatists, even if people in the last 50 years wanted to put their interpretive spin on the words. Calvin and the Geneva church adopted a no-rebaptism position, specifically addressing people who had been baptised by the RC. Thornwell et al proposed an overature to reject RC bapism and were voted down 169-8 in the 1845 general assembly.

Charles Hodge, while acknowledging the grave error of the RC, used the language of the early church giving a three-point test for baptism including whether it was done in the name of the triune God, with water, and with the purpose of joining someone to the church.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I really doubt the Westminster divines were donatists, even if people in the last 50 years wanted to put their interpretive spin on the words. Calvin and the Geneva church adopted a no-rebaptism position, specifically addressing people who had been baptised by the RC. Thornwell et al proposed an overature to reject RC bapism and were voted down 169-8 in the 1845 general assembly.

Charles Hodge, while acknowledging the grave error of the RC, used the language of the early church giving a three-point test for baptism including whether it was done in the name of the triune God, with water, and with the purpose of joining someone to the church.

I think you misunderstood what I was saying or at least attempting to say. I wasn't calling anyone a donatist. I was saying the argument that is often used today against those who do not believe in the validity of papist baptisms is that they are donatists. I am calling that argument a strawman.

Further, I think your history is backwards (if my history is correct). The PCUS (southern church) determined that papist baptism was not a Christian baptism (the vote you cited however was correct). That's neither here nor there though.

Today, we cannot just look at the Reformers as whatever they did is gospel. We must be careful. Knowing that a lot of what they did was wonderful, they were not perfect or complete. One fact is important, we are some 450 years after. And a lot has changed in the RC compared to at that time (e.g. Vatican 1 and 2).

Another factor is our Standards which says that a church may so deteriorate that it becomes no church at all. We have to see that as a possibility of the RC. We can't just close our eyes to the facts of the papacy because the Reformers held their view of that group 450+ years ago. I hope you would not suggest that a protestant denomination doesn't ever change in doctrine. How many denominations have we seen be strong at first and then plunge themselves into nothingness and great judgment because of their horrible erring from the truth? I'd venture to say many throughout history, and yes even some of those have become no church at all. Therefore, if we are to talk about this, we can't just say, "Calvin said this..." or this puritan said that. We have to come to a conclusion of the state of the papacy today. Do they proclaim the Gospel in any way, degree in the Preaching of the Word or Sacraments? Or is it something that may fit with Gal. 1:8-9? Are their ministers rightly ordained?

And if you say that the papacy is a true church, I would venture to say that perhaps you don't' truly treat them like it. You would have to, being a Christian, encourage roman catholics to continue worshipping in their 'churches'. That they will be 'okay' there and they will grow, etc. in the faith. You might encourage them to consider more faithful churches, but you can't say if you continue there believing what the church preaches you are going to hell. Because they are a true church. If someone from your congregation was moving and the only church in the close area they were moving to was RC, would you really discourage them or if a Session not allow their membership to transfer to RC? They are a true church after all, even if astray in many ways (That's the view, as best I can tell, of those who believe in the validity of papist baptism - that they are a true church). If that is correct, then a Session would not refuse such a transfer.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Andrew is correct; one's position on baptism should not be based on the validity of the church, nor the minister, else all unregenerate ministers baptisms would as well be invalid. Yes, optimally, those marks should be in place, but we cannot, in an absolute sense, prove this one way or the other.
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Declaration on RCC Baptism - Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly

What this statement grants with one hand, it seems to remove with the other. Can you help me understand why it says of the Roman Catholic rites:

They are therefore to be considered spurious as representing the false gospel propagated by Roman Catholicism.

Then, under the some of the practical exceptions to this ruling, you'll find:

No member of this denomination can be with held from the Lord’s Supper because they have only a Roman baptism.

My quandary is how can all the "pastoral care" in the world justify opening the Lord's Table to someone you don't believe is truly baptized?
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
What this statement grants with one hand, it seems to remove with the other. Can you help me understand why it says of the Roman Catholic rites:

They are therefore to be considered spurious as representing the false gospel propagated by Roman Catholicism.

Then, under the some of the practical exceptions to this ruling, you'll find:

No member of this denomination can be with held from the Lord’s Supper because they have only a Roman baptism.

My quandary is how can all the "pastoral care" in the world justify opening the Lord's Table to someone you don't believe is truly baptized?

I understand your question. Not every minister in the RPCGA is necessarily on the same page on this. There are two parts to the paper.
Part 1 is the "statement," part 2 (where your question comes in) is the "exception" to the statement for some ministers.

The RPCGA allows latitude to ministers who have conscious-binding exceptions on certain points in this statement (not only with this paper but also within the denominational lines of doctrinal adherence (we have that outlined in the BCO - supra, infra, etc.)). Those who "hold to" the paper's statement would not fall under the exceptions. They accept what is written ABOVE, "Allowed Exceptions to the Declaration on Roman Catholic Baptisms." Other ministers, who may have been already in the RPCGA when this was argued at GA, and needed those exceptions, and continue adhering to those exceptions as the latitude they need or want, regardless of the logical question you posed.
 
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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner

Ray

Puritan Board Freshman
We're in agreement. As a Particular Baptist myself, I don't recognize my RCC baptism either, and was truely baptized in 2014. Just curious what others positions are, particularly of those who also hold to covenant theology.
Here’s a short Review Of Thornwell argument against RCC Baptism if you like to check it out brother. There’s a few other articles that might be of your interest on here too on Baptism.
Grace n Peace...
http://www.dr-fnlee.org/review-of-thornwells-the-validity-of-the-baptism-of-the-church-of-rome/
 

beloved7

Puritan Board Freshman
Since you called out the PCA, I'll refer you to the study paper on the subject.

Appendix P: Report on the Validity of Certain Baptisms (1987)
http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/2-079.html

Appendicies: (1845, 1871)
http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/2-089.html

Minority Report (1987) (Adopted)
http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/2-093.html

I'd pick Frank Barker or Paul Settle over the author of the minority report.
Thank you for the links, it's appreciated. Also please don't misunderstand; I'm not "calling out" the PCA in the sense that I'm challenging. I'm simply inquiring and mentioned them because I know that they are covenantal and theologically conservative.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
In most PCA and OPC churches, a RCC baptism would probably be accepted as valid. However, there are a minority of churches that would not accept it. This reflects a long-standing debate between the Northern Presbyterians (who generally, but not always, accepted RCC baptism as valid) and the Southern Presbyterians (who generally, but not always, rejected RCC baptism).
It would depend on if your church recognized the Church of Rome as being a Valid NT church or not, wouldn't it?
 

shoe

Puritan Board Freshman
Appendix P: Report on the Validity of Certain Baptisms (1987)
http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/2-079.html

Minority Report (1987) (Adopted)
http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/2-093.html
These are indeed good resources for understanding the debate in the PCA. However, just to correct what may be incorrectly inferred by the "(Adopted)" note, the position of that Minority Report was not adopted (and neither was the position of the committee's main report), though the recommendations of the minority report were adopted, including these two recommendation:
1. That the Assembly receive both the Committee and the Minority Reports, commending them to the attention of its churches and lower courts as information. Adopted.
2. That the Assembly leave decisions in these matters to be made, on a case by case basis, by the lower courts, subject to normal review and control or judicial processes. Adopted.

So, effectively, the only thing decided on that day, was that the two opposing view points and and practices would continue to coexist.
 
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