What I CAN and CANNOT Live With as a Pastor by Mark Dever

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Grace Alone

Puritan Board Senior
It really doesn't bother me that Dever calls it sin. I actually think he should. But I can't understand how having female elders is not a deal breaker. I'd pump gas before I ministered in a church with eldresses.

Fred, I won't speak for Mark, but I'm sure he'd be pumping gas right along with you.

I wish, Bill, that he had been as forceful in his language on eldresses as paedobaptists:

2. Female elders. I might be able to live with female elders, but not for long, and probably not at all, so I probably just shouldn’t try. I want to allow for those situations in which you’ve had an ill-taught church that’s willing to follow your leadership, where even the female elders themselves are happy to step down. But normally, if a church accepts female elders, has been clearly instructed to the contrary, and will not change, that seems like a battle you won’t win. So I probably wouldn’t even begin with such a church.

I refuse to even visit my in-laws church with female elders on Lord's Days when there could be communion.

We refuse to visit my in-laws' church with the female minister on any Lord's Days.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Really? Seems to me that the PCA has more than just credo-baptists in positions of authority that do not face any discipline.

None that I'm aware of...can't hold an office in a PCA Church as a Credo-baptist..do you have specific examples Ben?

I may not have expressed myself as clearly as possible. My point was to say that the PCA has men (and "commissioned women") in positions of authority that hold aberrant positions that do not face discipline.

True, but bad (or incomplete) practice is different from aberant views (such as the ARP's on deaconesses :lol:)
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Dever is right because he is being consistent. Dever is wrong because he is a Baptist.

Daniel, I have no problem with that. You believe he's wrong because he's a Baptist? Wow! What a shock! You're attacking us poor Baptists. Can't we all just get a long? :wink:
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
None that I'm aware of...can't hold an office in a PCA Church as a Credo-baptist..do you have specific examples Ben?

I may not have expressed myself as clearly as possible. My point was to say that the PCA has men (and "commissioned women") in positions of authority that hold aberrant positions that do not face discipline.

True, but bad (or incomplete) practice is different from aberrant views (such as the ARP's on deaconesses :lol:)

Well you will not receive an argument from me on the deaconess issue. It is worth noting that simply by attrition the deaconess is going the way of the dodo in the ARP.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think it is wise to let the devil know the hill on which you are willing to die. :lol:
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Bill,

You have either purposefully or mistakenly ignored the context of my distress. Calling paedo-baptism a sin in light of female elders is a slap in the face. That's not just a slight, that's an outright insult.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Bill,

You have either purposefully or mistakenly ignored the context of my distress. Calling paedo-baptism a sin in light of female elders is a slap in the face. That's not just a slight, that's an outright insult.

Andrew,

I hear what you're saying, but I would say that denying infant baptism is a sin. And I say that in the light of female elders also.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Andrew, here is what you said:

He blatantly called a core doctrine of Presbyterianism a sin, something akin to murder, rape, lust, or blasphemy.

Your post said nothing about this in light of female elders. But let's say you intended that. So what? Dever wasn't defending female deacons or elders. He was talking about what could/should/would happen if a pastor took a position in a church with female elders. You've got your hackles up about this issue. I don't. I have no problem with what he said, and on that we'll just have to disagree and move on.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Those of you who are toeing the Baptist line should at least acknowledge the significant slight in calling paedo-Baptism a sin, but not female elders.

:duh:

-----Added 3/21/2009 at 12:21:48 EST-----

Andrew, here is what you said:

He blatantly called a core doctrine of Presbyterianism a sin, something akin to murder, rape, lust, or blasphemy.

Your post said nothing about this in light of female elders. But let's say you intended that. So what? Dever wasn't defending female deacons or elders. He was talking about what could/should/would happen if a pastor took a position in a church with female elders. You've got your hackles up about this issue. I don't. I have no problem with what he said, and on that we'll just have to disagree and move on.

You don't have your hackles up but you're emphatically defending Denver and what he said against anyone who deigns to opine a negative sentiment? I'm sorry but I find that hard to believe. You're every bit as interested as I am.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Those of you who are toeing the Baptist line should at least acknowledge the significant slight in calling paedo-Baptism a sin, but not female elders.

:duh:

-----Added 3/21/2009 at 12:21:48 EST-----

Andrew, here is what you said:

He blatantly called a core doctrine of Presbyterianism a sin, something akin to murder, rape, lust, or blasphemy.

Your post said nothing about this in light of female elders. But let's say you intended that. So what? Dever wasn't defending female deacons or elders. He was talking about what could/should/would happen if a pastor took a position in a church with female elders. You've got your hackles up about this issue. I don't. I have no problem with what he said, and on that we'll just have to disagree and move on.

You don't have your hackles up but you're emphatically defending Denver and what he said against anyone who deigns to opine a negative sentiment? I'm sorry but I find that hard to believe. You're every bit as interested as I am.

I'm not so much defending Dever (NOT DENVER. Mark Dever isn't a city.) as I am agreeing with him. The fact that you have a problem with what Dever said is noted and appreciated.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Just to restate/clarify after a night of sleep: it's not so much that Dever calls paedobaptism sinful (and he even qualifies it a bit, I think), it's that this is the only thing he does in the entire article. He would be willing to serve in a church with female elders, if only for a time. But somehow this is not "sinful", or at least he does not call it (nor anything else in the article, which is more than 4 sentences) so.

And I'm purely speculating, but I'm guessing he would serve the Lord's Supper to one of those female elders. But not Lig Duncan.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
And I'm purely speculating, but I'm guessing he would serve the Lord's Supper to one of those female elders. But not Lig Duncan.

Why don't you ask him? I'm sure you can contact him via 9 Marks. He's also on Facebook. No need to speculate.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
And I'm purely speculating, but I'm guessing he would serve the Lord's Supper to one of those female elders. But not Lig Duncan.

Why don't you ask him? I'm sure you can contact him via 9 Marks. He's also on Facebook. No need to speculate.

I'm not a Facebook friend. And after this, why would I want to be? Perhaps you can forward my question to him. I really would be interested in his answer.

I do have an honest sincere question for you, Bill, and for any other Baptist who would like to comment -- how closely tied is credobaptism to one's identity as a Christian? I know you would never refer to paedobaptists as unbelievers or anything of the sort, but if you view entrance into the visible church as being marked by baptism, and if you view anything other than believer's baptism by immersion not be baptism (and sinful!), then paedos would technically not be members of the visible church, correct? If not, can they properly (or "technically") be called "Christians" if they are not part of the body of Christ?

Mind you, I'm just asking here. If this is the case, it goes a long way into helping me understand why Dever would refuse the Lord's Supper to a paedo like Duncan. Of course, if this is true, it also introduces a :worms:
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
And I'm purely speculating, but I'm guessing he would serve the Lord's Supper to one of those female elders. But not Lig Duncan.
Why don't you ask him? I'm sure you can contact him via 9 Marks. He's also on Facebook. No need to speculate.

I'm not a Facebook friend. And after this, why would I want to be? Perhaps you can forward my question to him. I really would be interested in his answer.

I do have an honest sincere question for you, Bill, and for any other Baptist who would like to comment -- how closely tied is credobaptism to one's identity as a Christian? I know you would never refer to paedobaptists as unbelievers or anything of the sort, but if you view entrance into the visible church as being marked by baptism, and if you view anything other than believer's baptism by immersion not be baptism (and sinful!), then paedos would technically not be members of the visible church, correct? If not, can they properly (or "technically") be called "Christians" if they are not part of the body of Christ?

Mind you, I'm just asking here. If this is the case, it goes a long way into helping me understand why Dever would refuse the Lord's Supper to a paedo like Duncan. Of course, if this is true, it also introduces a :worms:

We're straying into a fundamental difference between Baptists and Presbyterians which is going way of topic. I'll answer here but suggest we start a new thread if this discussion is going to develop legs.

Tim, in Baptist ecclesiology baptism grants access to visible church membership. Most Baptist churches that I know require baptism for membership. Presbyterians practice the same thing, although they do not require a profession of faith by infants. Baptists believe the bible clearly teaches that baptism is a sign of the New Covenant which is entered into by faith alone. That is a sword a convinced Baptist will fall on.

From a purely technically perspective Baptists do not consider Presbyterians as part of the visible church. Why? Because they haven't been scripturally baptized. But from a practical perspective, it would be hard to deny that Presbyterians display all the evidence of a functioning visible church. They administer the sacraments (although a Baptist would consider their view of baptism to be wrong), preach the word, practice church discipline, and care for the saints. To the degree that we can emphatically state a person is saved, there is absolutely no question as to whether they are members of the invisible church, in that baptism is applied after regeneration, not before. But circumstances sometimes do create strange bedfellows.

Let's take Dever's "only church in Mecca" example and apply that to credos and paedos. What if there was a 50/50 split of credos and paedos in the church. Should the credos reject the paedos because they have not been scripturally baptized? Should the paedos call on the credos to repent because they have not baptized their children? Sometimes circumstances dictate charity and change of practice. It's not the ideal, and that church in Mecca will probably experience some profound ecclesiastical challenges, but it is preferable to excluding saints from worship and fellowship. I'll go so far to say it would be sin to do so. This type of scenario was probably a motivation for Dever's article. He wasn't writing about a new church plant or an existing Calvinistic or Reformed Baptist church. Those types of churches have no baggage to unpack and get rid of. A new pastor in a mature church may run into all sorts of unsavory beliefs and practices.

There are Baptists on this board who are not convinced Baptists. They've never really studied Baptist ecclesiology, or at least never formed a definite position. In response to the question of whether paedos would be members of the visible church, they would be hard pressed to answer. If they are convinced Baptists, their answer should be an easy one.

Tim, I'm not going to forward your question to Mark Dever. If you really want to know the answer to your question, go to the 9 Marks or Capital Hill Baptist Church website. Ask for yourself. I am not going to speculate on that topic. Unless you attempt to find out the answer I have to conclude the question is a red herring.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
"The Jews in Jordan were baptized,
Therefore ingenious John devis?d
A scoop or squirt, or some such thing,
With which some water he might fling
Upon the long extended rank
Of candidates, that lin?d the bank.
Be careful, John, some drops may fall
From your rare instrument on all;
But point your engine, ne?ertheless,
To those who do their sins confess.
Let no revilers in the crowd,
The holy sprinkling be allow?d"
(Benjamin Francis)
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
But circumstances sometimes do create strange bedfellows.

This is why you should never say 'never'. Your hypothetical Mecca church is a great example. I would even take it a step further and say that the challenge to maintain unity would end up being a blessing to both sides. "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth."
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
But circumstances sometimes do create strange bedfellows.

This is why you should never say 'never'. Your hypothetical Mecca church is a great example. I would even take it a step further and say that the challenge to maintain unity would end up being a blessing to both sides. "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth."

Ken, I'm sure a hypothetical mega church would have many blessings. But I also recognize the potential pitfalls. They would be real. If they weren't we wouldn't have Baptists and Presbyterians.
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
To the degree that we can emphatically state a person is saved, there is absolutely no question as to whether they are members of the invisible church, in that baptism is applied after regeneration, not before.

I don't understand this sentence. Are you talking about Pres. or Baptists?

Secondly, with what you've said about Presbyterians and the visible church, why was Duncan allowed to preach?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
But circumstances sometimes do create strange bedfellows.

This is why you should never say 'never'. Your hypothetical Mecca church is a great example. I would even take it a step further and say that the challenge to maintain unity would end up being a blessing to both sides. "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth."

Ken, I'm sure a hypothetical mega church would have many blessings. But I also recognize the potential pitfalls. They would be real. If they weren't we wouldn't have Baptists and Presbyterians.

I agree that it would not be ideal.

I am referring to the way the HS uses our differences to improve our own knowledge and understanding. In addition, when the congregation sees her pastors 'endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace', it encourages them to do likewise. Just like here on PB!
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
To the degree that we can emphatically state a person is saved, there is absolutely no question as to whether they are members of the invisible church, in that baptism is applied after regeneration, not before.

I don't understand this sentence. Are you talking about Pres. or Baptists?

Secondly, with what you've said about Presbyterians and the visible church, why was Duncan allowed to preach?

I was referring to Presbyterians.

As to why Ligon was allowed to preach, why not? He wasn't applying for membership at CHBC.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
As to why Ligon was allowed to preach, why not? He wasn't applying for membership at CHBC.

Baptists are in the practice of allowing those who are not "members of the visible church" to fill their pulpits? Do they, perchance, have a higher standard of the Lord's Supper than the ministry of the preaching of the word?
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
To the degree that we can emphatically state a person is saved, there is absolutely no question as to whether they are members of the invisible church, in that baptism is applied after regeneration, not before.

I don't understand this sentence. Are you talking about Pres. or Baptists?

Secondly, with what you've said about Presbyterians and the visible church, why was Duncan allowed to preach?

I was referring to Presbyterians.

As to why Ligon was allowed to preach, why not? He wasn't applying for membership at CHBC.


Admittedly, I'm slow on this kind of stuff. If you're referring to Presbyterians, I still don't understand the sentence because we don't apply baptism after regeneration in the case of infants (we do for adult professions of faith, but that's another matter).
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Tim, in Baptist ecclesiology baptism grants access to visible church membership. ... From a purely technically perspective Baptists do not consider Presbyterians as part of the visible church. Why? Because they haven't been scripturally baptized. But from a practical perspective, it would be hard to deny that Presbyterians display all the evidence of a functioning visible church.

OK, in the spirit of unity and learning from brothers (please note, I would consider you both a brother in Christ and a member of the visible church and you would be welcome at the Lord's Table at Midlane Park, in case I haven't been clear on anything), I'm willing to concede that there may be some talking past one another here. I will confess that when I first read the "not a part of the visible church" comments, I hit the roof. I'm not sure, however, that Baptists (at least not all Baptists) and Presbyterians (and not all Presbyterians as well, as the FV controversy will attest to) are defining the term "visible church" in the same way.

Here's what I mean. I certainly am not an expert in any way on Baptist ecclesiology, which is part of the reason for my numerous questions. In the London Baptist Confession, I did not find a statement concerning the "visible church" per se, but rather concerning the "visible saints." This is, of course, a bit different from the WCF. I would assume you would agree with this (if not, feel free to correct me):

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. (26:2)

I went to the CHBC website and found that their statement of faith is taken from the New Hampshire Baptist Confession (1853 revision). Interestingly, it says this (and I do not know if you would agree or disagree with this):

We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers.. (Article 13)

In neither of these documents is there a reference to "the visible church" but "a visible church" or "visible saints." It seems to me that there is a fundamental difference in understanding of these terms between Baptist and Presbyterians. Once again, correct me if I am wrong. Here is what the WCF says:

The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. (25:1)
Asking you to ignore, of course, the statement about children, would not be a different understanding of the term "visible church." It would seem to me that in Dever's understanding (given his confession understanding), that Lig Duncan was not a member of his particular "visible church" and therefore denied him the sacrament/ordinance. This is decidedly less offensive than saying, "Well, you're not a member of the visible church at all!" As you can tell by the last statement in the WCF quote, this would be viewed different by a Presbyterian; it would similar to someone saying, "Well, you're not a Christian then, technically speaking." And that is bound to raise the ire of those like me!

But I do not think this is what you are saying, of course. Is it fair to say that Baptists and Presbyterians are not viewing the visible church in the same way, given these confession statements? If so, that might help me a great deal to see the rationale of Dever's actions. That is not the same thing as saying I agree with him, mind you, only that I can understand him a bit better.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I have alerted Rev. Denver of the offense in question on a blog post. Assuming he sees it, we'll see where he personally stands regarding both my and Tim's concern.
 

Don Vitorio

Puritan Board Freshman
Ursinus on infant baptism

:think:

The Anabaptists, therefore, in denying baptism to the children of the church, do not only deprive them of their rights, but they also prevent the grace of God from being seen in its richness, since God wills that the off spring of the faithful should be included amongst the members of the church, even from the womb: yea they manifestly detract from the grace of the New Covenant, and narrow down that of the old, inasmuch as they refuse to extend baptism to infants, to whom circumcision was formerly extended; they weaken the comfort of the church, and of faithful parents; they set aside the solemn obligation by which God will have the offspring of his people consecrated to him from their very infancy, distinguished, and separated from the world; they weaken in parents and children the sense of gratitude, and the desire which they should have to perform their obligations to God; they boldly contradict the apostles who declare that water should not be forbidden those to whom the Holy Ghost is given; they wickedly keep back from Christ infants whom he has commanded to be brought to him; and lastly, they narrow down the universal command of Christ which requires that all should be baptized. From all these things it is clear that the denial of infant baptism is no trifling error, but a grievous heresy, in direct opposition to the word of God, and the comfort of the church. Wherefore this and similar follies of the sect of the Anabaptists should be carefully avoided, since they have, without doubt, been hatched by the devil, and are detestable heresies which they have fabricated from various errors and blasphemies.

Pages 367-8 of "The Commentary of Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism"

emphases mine
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I have alerted Rev. Denver of the offense in question on a blog post. Assuming he sees it, we'll see where he personally stands regarding both my and Tim's concern.

I hope you posted on the correct blog. I'm not aware that Rev. Denver has an opinion on this topic. I think Pastor Mark Dever does, but I'm just guessing.
 
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