Whatever became of Piper's desire to allow Paedos to partake of Communion

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by SolaScriptura, Apr 5, 2009.

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  1. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I never hear the outcome... Some have told me that Bethlehem Baptist Church amended its constitution and bylaws to allows folks who have a credible profession of fatih and were baptized as infants to have some limited membership so that they can partake of communion... but I thought I read that the elders backed off it and Piper, in submission to the elders, agreed to stop pushing for it.

    What happened?
  2. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    That's pretty much it, as far as I know. I don't think that the issue has been revisited since Piper's fellow elders shot it down.
  3. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    The last I read was that Piper did back off his attempt at allowing paedos to join Bethlehem Baptist Church. I am not sure what their practice is regarding communion. Some Baptist churches announce, "The Lord's table is open to all who have been scripturally baptized..." They don't go further than this. A visiting paedo will consider themselves scripturally baptized and partake. Unless the credo pastor or elder specifically mentions believers baptism, this is likely to be the case.
  4. Turtle

    Turtle Puritan Board Freshman

    I had a very trying experience, because of my baptism, when I considered joining a reformed baptist church. I was sprinkled in my teens after making a profession of faith. So in essence the mode in which I was baptized was the only issue that precluded my joining. Needless to say it caused no shortage of feelings of being cast out.

    I desired to be obedient to the elders but my conscience prevented so I refused to be baptized again unless I was convinced of the scriptures. I suffered the result. After reading many books from various camps I remained unconvinced and was satisfied that baptism hadn't been crucified for me so I wouldn't worry about it. (To be specific, what gave me piece was the realization that Chris was baptized, and I am sure He did it correctly. If I was sinning in the manner in which I was baptized, then that was one more sin He covered over with His righteousness!) Several years later, while not even looking for answers to baptism, the scriptures shouted out the answer.

    It was a marvelous lesson, we have a book that sheds a lot of light on commentaries and camps of thought!
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2009
  5. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    So what's the answer?
  6. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Well, since Turtle is a member of a PCA church, I suppose the baptism issue became moot.
  7. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    If you're a Presbyterian, and you seek to join an RB church, don't be shocked if they require you to be baptized upon your profession of faith. No Baptist is going to put a gun to your head and force you to join. You can disagree with RB practice all you want. But if you're a paedo, why would you want to join an RB church?
  8. PointyHaired Calvinist

    PointyHaired Calvinist Puritan Board Sophomore

    I know of a family who was Presbyterian but became active in a Reformed Baptist church. I asked a friend of theirs (shortly after they started attending) what they thought about having to be rebaptized, and the friend said "Hm. I don't know if they've considered this."

    A couple years later, they left because of the rebaptism requirement. This is why I could never join an RB church - like the poster above, I was sprinkled as a teenager.
  9. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    You mean they left because of the baptism requirement. :smug:

    Sorry. Had to represent the Baptist perspective.
  10. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Actually, that is a good reason to leave. If you consider the Baptist view of baptism to be rebaptism, then you have no business being there unless it is the only church in the area.
  11. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    This is why it is important to have a confession of faith that defines doctrine, binds unity, and is used for accountability.

    Regardless of one's view on this issue, having a confession can define this, not leave it up to the subjective doctrinal evaluation of a leader(s) at a given point in time.

    This is one of the advantages we have in reformed theology, broadly speaking. At a minimum, we are defined by:

    doctrines of grace ("five points") + covenant theology + confession

    In reformed theology, unity is grounded on doctrinal agreement and the church is a community covenanted together to serve God in this world. It is not this way in "broad" evangelicalism.

    As charitably and broadly as we can define reformed theology, it cannot be less than this. A confession of faith is a basis of unity and accountability on doctrines like this, and visitors, regular attenders, members and officers must be able to know that.
  12. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Scott, excellent point. As I'm teaching through the 1689 LBC in Sunday school, it's obvious that many members have never wrestled with these doctrines. I've heard comments such as, "Now that makes sense." Or, "I wonder why we believe that way."
  13. smhbbag

    smhbbag Puritan Board Senior

    I have yet to see any sense in a Reformed Baptist position that would refuse membership and/or the Lord's Table to our (theologically) closest Christian brothers.

    I would sooner refuse these things over the Doctrines of Grace than I would over agreement on credobaptism.
  14. Turtle

    Turtle Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, of course I won't tell you the answer!

    But I will tell you that my PCA pastor offered to have me immersed, sprinkle or poured.

    I will of course tell you the verse that broke the log jam for me though. You will notice that in the first chapter of John, John the Baptist has been causing quite stir in the town so a delegation of the Pharisees was sent out to enquire if he was the Christ. He of course said that he was not. The Pharisees became exasperated. Why?

    Well John the baptist was baptizing (which is no surprise for us) but obviously the fact that he was baptizing meant a big deal to them. It meant that he had to be the Christ. John 1:25.

    So, baptism must be able to be defined from the old testament.

    If you can find the verses that the Pharisees used to identify Christ as the one who would be baptizing then you have it.

    But, I can tell you that I don't feel the need to reject any of the modes.
  15. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    Refusing the sacraments on the basis of mode is blatant sectarianism.
  16. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    What if I was baptized as a heathen on a false profession of faith but I will baptize my kids. Is that a sufficient "believer's baptism"?
  17. lshepler412

    lshepler412 Puritan Board Freshman

    Sometimes people have to relocate and there is no Reformed/Presbyterian Church. That is why they might want to join a RB.
  18. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    In the Old Testament, God's people (Israel) did baptize. If a non-Israelite converted, he had to be baptized (cleansed) to be admitted to Israel.

    This is what was so outrageous to the Jews who heard John tell them they, as sons and daughters of Jacob, had to be baptized, when they were already in the covenant (they thought). They thought only "unclean" gentiles, outside the covenant community of Israel had to be baptized.

    So, what was their mode in the Old Testament? I'm not sure, somebody here will know.
  19. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Jeremy, I wish it was as simplistic as you make it seem. The RB view of baptism is rooted in scriptural command, and the view of the New Covenant. Those two are inexorably linked in RB structure. The 1689 LBC is very clear on the nature of the covenant, and the ordinance of baptism. If a paedo cannot in good conscience submit to this teaching they should not seek to join a confessional Baptist church.

    Is there room for exception? Yes. I believe there is. Say you are a paedo and you move to an area where there is no paedo church. The only church is a Baptist church. A sit down with the pastor and elders would be in order to inform them of your doctrinal convictions. It is quite possible that the pastor and elders could be convinced to receive a brother into fellowship based on these circumstances so long as he agrees not to teach contrary to what the church believes. Is that normative? No. Most members of the PB live in an area where they have the luxury of which church to attend.

    The 1689 LBC does not prohibit paedos from partaking of the Lord's Supper. My personal conviction is that they should be allowed to partake. They are members of the body of Christ, and therefore, should be allowed to the table.
  20. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Wow. I asked a simple question about the status of a particular church's position on their membership requirements and it spawned this.
  21. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

  22. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I need to correct my last statement. I'm not sure what I believe regarding paedos partaking of the Lord's Supper. My statement was made more out of personal feeling than conviction. It is something I am still working on.
  23. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Church membership involves an affirmation of the particular confessional constraints of that community. This is a smaller circle than that of true Christians. Membership in a RB or Presbyterian church is not the same as salvation. I always invited all professing believers in fellowship with their Christian church to participate in the Lord's Supper.
  24. smhbbag

    smhbbag Puritan Board Senior

    Agreed, including on the last sentence in normal circumstances.

    My point is that even though the paedo should not seek membership at an RB church if there are paedo churches around....this does not necessitate that membership should be denied by the RB church.

    Pretty much agreed here, as well.

    Agreed again.

    My, shall we say, strongest distaste is for those who would deny the LS even to visiting paedos, and that in fact appears to be the majority in my experience. This includes my own congregation.

    I would recognize that elders should discourage a Presbyterian joining if there were a reasonably solid paedo church around, for his own conscience sake if nothing else. But, with the caveat that he never teach against the RB position, I could not see a justification to refuse membership.

    Your very last sentence is the heart of it for me. If one is in Christ, with a serious, thoughtful, and lived-out confession of saving faith, then no Bible-believing church has the authority to refuse the Lord's Supper nor, in my mind, membership. Though, as said, the latter may be discouraged or counseled against, but not refused. If accepted to membership, the elders do have full authority to limit what he advocates to others in the church setting, and would be wise to have disciplinary standards for the member's disobedience on that point.
  25. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    That one, last, ever-so-small vestige of autonomy is hard to give up, ain't it?
  26. Turtle

    Turtle Puritan Board Freshman

    ..the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. With them they sent the following letter:

    The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

    Acts 15
  27. smhbbag

    smhbbag Puritan Board Senior

    To what do you refer?
  28. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

  29. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    That's a very valid point. As a Presbyterian I wouldn't want to join a RB, however, I don't see how either side can bar the other from the Lord's Supper. The disciples were not yet baptized before they partook of the Lord's Supper when viewed through the lens of the credo. Baptism before the death and resurrection of Christ would line up more with the Paedo's lens of baptism...in my opinion but I could be very wrong even according to my own denomination. I've never encountered a church who would bar a Presbyterian from the Lord's Supper so I've never had to look into the timing of the disciple's baptism.
  30. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I wonder how much of the resistance there is in allowing a paedo to partake of the Lord's supper is justified on the basis of theology or practice.

    There is a former member of the PB who, although he is a paedo, attended a credo church. There was no lack of paedo churches in his area. He remained in the credo church because he had a close relationships with other believers, and he was actively working to change the church to the paedo view. He was engaging in dialog with the pastor and elders over that very thing. He left the PB years ago, so I'm not sure how that whole affair played out. That is a fear in the mind of some Baptist churches. Some paedos are concerned about the same thing. Too many individuals join who hold to the opposite view of baptism, and it there is a fear it will threaten the core principles of the church itself. Unfounded fear? Possibly. But these things have happened, and they're not always pretty.

    Last night I looked at the 1689 LBC and could not find a prohibition against administering the Lord's Supper to a paedo. One defense I can imagine would be from this part of the confession:

    Some churches may consider a paedo to be in unrepentant sin by holding a view on baptism that is contrary to scripture. But lest we skewer Baptists solely with this charge, it can go both ways. Is this what the framers of the confession had in mind? I don't think so. We all have some degree of imperfect doctrine. We misunderstand God continually, and we're not always aware of it. If we partake of the Lord's Supper, unaware that we may have a doctrinal view that is antithetical to scripture, are we guilt of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? No. God's mercy and grace is sufficient to cover our ignorance. It's quite another matter when we are aware of our sin, or have been brought under church discipline, and refuse to repent.

    Ben, I know you didn't expect this thread to take these twists and turns, but I think it is a profitable conversation.
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