My Beliefs About the Extent of Communion

by Bart Barber on February 25, 2014 · 66 comments

I believe that you should encourage to participate in the Lord’s Supper any and everyone who, if he or she were a member of your church, you would not discipline out. That states my understanding of the extent of the Lord’s Supper in its entirety.

A few corollary thoughts:

  1. This presumes that your church has the framework in place to exercise church discipline and the guts to do it.
  2. Our church is a Baptist church. That means that if one of our Sunday School classes started sprinkling infants and refused to stop, they would be subject to church discipline simply because they were sprinkling infants. Believer’s baptism is not just our preference, it is the clear and indisputable teaching of God’s word. Thus, any pedobaptist member of our church is necessarily someone against whom we would start discipline proceedings.
  3. The reason why I never make statements about the extent of communion using language like “Like Faith and Order” is because too much of a focus on baptism erroneously and dangerously conveys the impression that so long as you are saved and have been dunked subsequently, you need not consider the matter further. But truly every Christian ought to examine his or her own heart and ask the question, “If my fellow brothers and sisters knew about all of the attitudes in my heart and all of the things that I’ve done this week, and if I persisted in them unrepentantly, would I be a legitimate candidate for church discipline?” If the answer to that question is “Yes,” then I need to spend some time getting my heart straight with the Lord before participating in the Lord’s Supper. I tell people that only those who are believers and who have repented of their known sin should participate in the Supper. I further clarify that having refused scriptural baptism is a sin.
  4. It surprises me not at all that a sizable number of SBC churches are probably basically Stoddardian in their approach to the Lord’s Supper since church discipline is all but lost among us.In my opinion, it is far more important (and is prerequisite) to recover a meaningful idea of church membership before trying to repair what has happened to our theology of the ordinances. It is difficult to make lasting and meaningful repair to the crack over the doorway before addressing the problems in the foundation.
  5. I am actually optimistic in the long term. More is being written and preached about ecclesiology today than has been the case for at least a couple of generations preceding us. Biblical preaching always bears fruit. I think that this problem will solve itself with time and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
1 dr. james willingham February 26, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Wait until you find how narrow and restrictive closed communion can be, when carried to the extremes. Yes, we need church discipline. Yes, we need some restrictions on church communion. But we also need some latitude, something that Baptists have had a difficult time doing, especially sense the set-to with the Moderates. I do not mind some limits, but some people will demand more and more until, literally, only a few can participate in the observance.

2 David Rogers February 27, 2014 at 1:11 am

I’ll repeat this question from the other post here, in case it may have gotten lost in the shuffle:

Do you believe we should treat paedobaptists who confess the essentials of the gospel, and maintain an otherwise non-objectionable lifestyle, “as you would treat someone who does not know God or who is a tax collector” (Matt 18.17 ESV)?

3 Bart Barber February 27, 2014 at 11:35 am

In true Jesus fashion I’m going to answer your question with a question. :-)

Imagine that the W.A. Criswell of 1956 were somehow brought (perhaps by Bill and Ted?) into your church. He’s a faithful evangelist. He’s a student of the Bible. He’s careful and righteous in his living. He’s a faithful steward of his income and assets. He loves missions and gives generously to support missions. He contributes creativity and innovation to the evangelistic enterprise and God is clearly making use of him.

But he insists in the harshest terms that the church should be segregated racially.

How do you believe that we should treat Dr. Criswell? Would you support my motion in the church business meeting that we treat him “as [we] would treat someone who does not know God or who is a tax collector” (Matt 18:17 ESV)?

(By the way, that’s an awful translation of that verse.)

4 Bart Barber February 27, 2014 at 11:35 am

…and just like Jesus, I’ll happily answer your question after you answer mine.

5 David Rogers February 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm

My short answer: I am still thinking through the implications of all this. Hopefully we can think through some of this together (along with anyone else who may want to jump in).

My longer answer (for the time being): I see some fairly direct parallels with the scenario you present here and the one Paul presents with regard to Peter (Cephas) in Galatians 2:11-14.

A few observations: Paul says that the conduct of Peter, Barnabas, and the rest of the Jews in this situation was “not in step with the truth of the gospel.” Because of this, he confronts this conduct directly.

We are not told in this particular passage to what extent there was immediate recognition on the part of Peter, Barnabas, et al., of the error of their ways, and subsequent repentance. We can assume from other parts of the NT that there was indeed this recognition and repentance at some time or another, though.

We are not told, either, whether Paul ever suggested or considered disfellowshipping Peter, Barnabas, et al., as a result of their conduct. From this perspective, that seems like a pretty severe idea, considering who Peter, Barnabas, et al., were.

My hunch about all this at the present: Though this was a very serious offense in Paul’s eyes (and from a legitimate gospel-centered perspective), it was not deemed sufficient to treat someone like Peter, Barnabas, et al., “as you would treat someone who does not know God or who is a tax collector.” I also sense (though admit the evidence is not conclusive) that Paul was not prepared to suggest that participation in the Lord’s Supper be withheld from Peter, Barnabas, et al, until they remedied this breach of conduct. It appears he knew they were true believers who were just acting out of character in this particular instance.

If this is the case (and I am open to the possibility that it was not), then that leaves us with three different categories: 1) those whose sin is private and not worthy of public reprimand; 2) those whose sin is public and worthy of public reprimand, and also, in the case of a failure to repent, worthy of shunning and refusal to admit them to the Lord’s Supper; 3) those whose sin is public and worthy of public reprimand, but not to the point of shunning and refusal to admit them to the Lord’s Supper.

There are several implications of all this with which I am not at all comfortable. I am being somewhat vulnerable in sharing these thoughts. Perhaps you, Bart, or someone else, can help me with the inherent dilemma I perceive in this situation. And perhaps that answer may help us all to think more straightly and biblically as we seek to sort out the issues related to close/closed/open/modified open communion.

6 Bart Barber February 28, 2014 at 12:55 am

Thank you for your answer. Now here is mine:

Yes, I think we should treat paedobaptists and antiquarian Criswell’s alike as we would treat Gentiles and tax collectors. Especially the holiest and most righteous offenders we treat this way, because church discipline is most likely to achieve its desired result—repentance and restoration—among those who are best disposed to examine themselves and come the truth by its application.

There is a difference between declaring someone to be a gentile or a tax collector on the one hand and treating them as such on the other hand.

In Criswell’s day, the paedobaptist was shunned while the racist was welcomed. In our day, the racist is shunned while the paedobaptist is welcomed. Each generation brings a different set of sins and error that the zeitgeist finds untroubling.

I say all of this not because I am confident that the hand of discipline will never fall against me, but precisely because, having a heart that is “prone to leave the God I love,” I fear that the day may come when I do in fact need it, and need it acutely. The brother who will not confront me and demand that I repent on that day will be the one who loves me the least.

7 David Rogers February 28, 2014 at 1:13 am

So, to put it rather bluntly, are you saying we are to treat Tim Keller as if he were not a brother in Christ?

…coz that’s sure what it sounds like.

8 Bart Barber February 28, 2014 at 1:39 am

1. I realize it leaves me a duck out of water in this world of Christian celebrity, but I happen to think that Tim Keller should be treated just like everyone else.

2. I’m saying that Tim Keller should be treated like an errant brother in Christ, because that’s what he is. And he’s doing something (paedobaptism) that isn’t just a difference of opinion, but is something that is demonstrably harmful to churches. Yes, he is doing other things that are helpful to churches, but he is doing something that is sinful and that harms churches.

Paint me to be uncharitable and narrow and parochial and unloving and unkind and un…whatever to paedobaptists all you want. You’ll have to contend with the fact that Mark Dever, who’s about as ecumenical and cozy and well liked among Presbyterians as any Baptist I know, holds the same view that I hold about paedobaptism being a matter of unrepentant sin.

9 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 8:20 am

In this exercise of application I had him in mind. I attended a 9Marks Weekender and the subject of close communion came up. CHBC practices close (not closed) communion at their church. Their stance is pretty equal to yours. Essentially, you can take communion with them if you are a baptized believer in Christ in good standing with your church. IE, not under discipline. So, visitors may if they are baptized (believer’s baptism) and not under discipline with their church.

Someone asked them what they would do if a Presbyterian was there at CHBC and desired communion. They, and I think it was specifically Jonathan Leeman, said they would give the same invitation to communion they always do which spells out the above and serve communion, making clear who is and is not welcome to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Ligon Duncan was mentioned, as he has taken communion there, but Mark said that Ligon has been baptized as a believer and is in good standing with his church and is thus welcome when he visits.

Mark is ecumenical outside of the local church, IE cooperation at T4G, etc. However, inside his local church, the only place he can exert direct influence, he is a Baptist. I think that distinction is important.

I would agree with Bart and Mark that someone who has not been baptized is not welcome to take communion. I also think Bart’s stipulation that if you are not under discipline (or wouldn’t be if you were a member at the church) you are welcome to partake.

Sorry if that’s a little fuzzy. Still on my first cup of coffee.

10 David Rogers February 28, 2014 at 9:42 am

Sorry for being a bit persistent in pressing the point, but in my mind, there is a big difference in treating someone as “an errant brother in Christ,” and treating someone “as if they were not a brother in Christ.” And, as an aside, I know that Dever does not treat Keller, or Duncan, as if they were not brothers in Christ.

Perhaps there is a different hermeneutical explanation of Matthew 18. Personally, I am glad those who practice close/closed communion are able to find a way to justify treating their paedobaptist brothers as brothers in Christ. I think it more closly represents the heart of Christ in the matter. But it seems to me to be logically inconsistent with the argument you are making, Bart.

In a sense, all of us are errant brothers in Christ—you, me, all of us! Yet Paul in Romans 14 and 15 says we are to accept and welcome one another, despite our differences. As I understand this passage, and the general import of the NT, the only reason for not welcoming and accepting someone is you do not believe they are a true brother in Christ, or their unrepentant state obligates you to treat them as if they were not. And from a NT perspective, in addition to whatever else it may imply, it seems hard to me to avoid the conclusion that welcoming and accepting someone as a brother in Christ means inviting them to share with you in the Lord’s Table.

In the episode Paul narrates in Gal. 2, it appears that at one point he treated Peter, Barnabas, and the rest of the Jews present as “errant brothers in Christ,” but not as if they were pagans and tax collectors. And this was when their conduct was of such a nature that he considered it to be “not in step with the truth of the gospel.”

11 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 10:22 am

David,

Matthew 18 is the pattern of escalating awareness and exhortation for church discipline. It happens inside the local church. Ligon Duncan is not going to join a Baptist Church because he is not a Baptist. He will not fall under the discipline of the church, because he is not a member of the church.

We welcome him as brother, yes, wholeheartedly. However, we are Baptists because we have a distinct set of beliefs about the Bible. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of the local church. As such, the local church has responsibility to perform its due diligence on anyone seeking membership in the church. You must have a credible profession of faith and be baptized as a believer to be a member. Ideally, the table is not for non-members. Membership in the church is an affirmation by the church that someone is a Christian. I sympathize with the closed communion view, but not to the point of adoption.

When visitors come, because as Baptists we will not have paedobaptists as members of the church, it is the duty of the church to instruct all who approach the table. The table is not a time of fun or fellowship for the sake of fellowship. (1 Cor 11:17-34) Paul says that anyone who partakes of the supper in an unworthy table eats and drinks judgment on themselves, to the point of sickness and death! We therefore cannot include everyone we may wish for the sake of friendly cooperation because we cannot legitimize sin.

Refusal to be baptized is sin, whatever the reason for the refusal. We are not given the leeway. Such a person would not be admitted to membership in the church (which is in effect discipline) and thus should not be welcome to partake at the table.

12 David Rogers February 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Nick,

You have done a good job at laying out your position here. There is much in it I can appreciate, but there are a few lingering issues I am struggling with.

I understand, for instance, that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are “local church ordinances,” inasmuch as they often, and most naturally, occur when a local church is gathered. But I see no specific biblical injunction why this must always be the case.

As a matter of fact, with regard to baptism, if you do a study of all of the times a baptism is recorded as a historical event in the NT, there is not one, that I can identify, where a local church was on hand to either oversee or validate that baptism.

The Lord’s Supper, as I see it, (along with other things) is a celebration of the unity of the Body of Christ, not just the unity of the local congregation. First Corinthians is addressed to “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints TOGETHER WITH ALL THOSE who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” There is only one Body, not many bodies (Eph. 4:4). And the Lord’s Supper is a participation in that one Body: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:16–17).

Then, you seem to argue in favor of the closed communion position, but ultimately don’t come out as advocating it. Frankly, to me, the closed communion position (though perhaps seemingly stricter) makes more sense to me biblically than the close communion position. At least you are saying, “I can only make a judgment of who may or who may not be a true Christian as a result of my personal interaction with so-and-so on a long-term on-going basis.” That makes some sense to me. Then we get into the whole question of letters of recommendation, and Diotrophes, who “refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church” (3 John 10).

I do see some validity to inquiring, when visitors or new people come to town, about their Christian testimony. But I still don’t see how, on the one hand, you can welcome someone as a brother, and at the same time refuse to invite them to share in the Lord’s Table.

13 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Bart,

Please see my question at the end about how a paedobaptist could ever become a member of your church in the first place.

But here is another: Suppose a SB church has a credo immersed faithful member who becomes convinced that paedobaptism is acceptable and even preferable. But he lives in an area where there is no other faithful church and is content to remain a member of the SB church and keep his paedo thoughts to himself (only really known to his family and the staff). i.e. he doesn’t at all want to cause division.

Is he ok to commune? Or is he subject to discipline for his theological belief?

Thanks brother.

14 David Rogers February 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Les (and Bart),

That is not just a hypothetical question. I have dealt with precisely that same situation on the mission field—only the person concerned started out as an Presbyterian paedobaptist and submitted to believers baptism, not because they had changed their theological position, but rather so they could be a member of the church.

15 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

David Rogers,

So they submitted to immersion as necessary for membership. So my question is, is he disciplinable for his beliefs? Assuming he did it not out of conviction but out of necessity.

BTW, though I have been ordained in the PCA for a long time, I have been immersed in my prior Baptist journey…three times.

So this hits home. If my convictions are that paedo or credo affusion or aspersion are acceptable modes and timing, though I’ve been immersed, am I welcome at the Lord’s table in Bart’s church?

Sort of like Lig Duncan I suppose.

16 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Bart,

Just want you to know I believe I will be edified by this discussion. Your stance is commendable in that you have firm convictions and are not afraid to state them.

And I want you to know that I’ve been around long enough to not get my feelings hurt in these discussions. So don’t hold back if you decide to engage my questions. You won’t hurt my feelings at all brother.

17 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 1:13 pm

David,

In the instances of baptism in the NT, there are those who approve of the credible profession. Plainly, they did not baptize themselves. We witness the birth of churches in some of those events. But we also have events such as the Ethiopian Eunuch who is baptized and then left.

I think I’m biblical in my reasoning, but part of it is also practical. How can I be responsible for the care of the soul of my brother or sister and yet not be reasonably assured of their faith? That’s why I think baptism happens in the local church. How can I rightly exercise the keys, affirming the confession of someone, without knowing enough to affirm?

This is what makes me sympathetic of closed communion. It is easier on the conscience of some brothers to fence the table to any non-member and thus be clean before the Lord that they did not assist anyone in eating and drinking condemnation on themselves.

I can affirm as brother or sister, so far as I know, many who are not members of my church. However, the Lord’s Supper is an activity carried out by church local, not the church universal. We participate in a fellowship of the church universal in our remembrance of Christ, but we are responsible for those under our care in the local church. So, there is one universal body of Christ, comprised of many local bodies. Church universal, church local. I am not responsible to Dave Miller’s church in Iowa, nor is he to mine.

Practically, I don’t know of any church that physically fences the table. It’s been a long time since instructions were given for any non-member to leave the sanctuary during communion. (Curious, does anyone still do that?) Warnings are given, it is then up to the individual and their conscience before God. The warning leaves the Pastor with clean hands and a pure heart.

As for how I can welcome someone as brother yet instruct they should not partake of communion. Communion is not a right. It is not an entitlement. It is our joy to remember our Lord’s sacrifice for us. We have been commanded to come to the table in a worthy manner. We should examine ourselves and ensure we do not partake in an unworthy manner. One of the great joys of the local church is that there are others with me who can lovingly correct me when I am in sin, and who I can lovingly correct when they are. In the event that someone will not repent, they are ex-communicated. Removed from communion. They are no longer affirmed as a Christian and their status before the church reverts back to unrepentant sinner. We warn such, those under discipline, not to partake of the table. Should we not warn those not to partake who in so doing would drink judgment on themselves?

Here is what I mean; if we could suspend reason and say that Tim Keller was a member of my church somehow, even without a believer’s baptism, he would immediately be under church discipline for disobeying the command of our Lord to be baptized. I would warn him not to partake of the communion until such time as he repents and is baptized. That would likely mean I’d encourage him to find a Presbyterian church rather than excommunicate him.

I consider many Presbyterians my brothers and sisters, but no, they can’t join my church unless they’re baptized. Since the Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the church, I would advise they not partake unless they obey the Lord and are baptized.

As a Baptist I am convinced that I am right in my view of the Scripture, ecclesiology, polity, etc. However, I also know that I and my paedobaptist friends are sinners. We’re both wrong on something, and I would not say that they are not Christians. But in my local church I am responsible for the discipleship of other members, and they are responsible for mine. Discipline is discipleship. We disciple others in warning them to obey the Lord by practicing close communion.

I must stand for what I believe is the revealed truth, especially in my Church, because a lost world is watching.

18 Dale Pugh February 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

All of which begs the question, “What is a discipline worthy action that would keep one from participating in the Lord’s Supper?”

Got a list or do you just make it up as you go? I’m pretty sure any of us could fit the black list at some point if one draws the parameters tightly enough.

I would not participate in communion at any church that doesn’t state publicly that I’m welcome to do so. I wouldn’t want to cause offense. If it is stated publicly that the church I’m in practices closed communion, I would leave, being unwelcome to participate. If I’m welcomed to participate under the guidelines of close communion, and feel comfortable doing so, I would. If I had any uncomfortability with it, I would leave.

19 Dale Pugh February 28, 2014 at 1:23 pm

AND, who says I have to let you know I’m under discipline at my church? I may feel that the discipline is unjust, thus I may also feel that I have a right to share in the table, even if I can’t at my home church.

20 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Dale,

Anything worthy of discipline is enough to keep someone from the table. There is not a cut and dry, black and white, this and that, list that I can point to. The nature and practice of discipline will change based on the church and the membership. Though, there are biblical guidelines; 1 cor. 5, Matt 18, Titus 3:10.

If you choose to hide that you are under discipline, that is between you and God. If the discipline is unwarranted or malicious, take it to pastor(s) of the church and state your case. Why hide?

I am not advocating physical fencing. I am affirming the fencing of a warning which will bind the conscience of those hearing.

Like you, I’d take my cue from whatever church I was visiting. If unwelcome, I’d submit to the authority of the church and not partake.

21 Dale Pugh February 28, 2014 at 2:48 pm

But, Nick, just stating “anything worthy ofdiscipline” is going to leave it open to interpretation. I agree that the three passages you cite are good directives, and I’m sure we’d both add several more to that list. I guess what I’m pointing out is that it still comes down to a matter of the individual’s conscience–whether or not the person actually has one is up to them.

22 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Dale,

I’d heartily agree it comes down to their conscience. We’re responsible to warn, not to physically restrain them.

23 Bart Barber March 1, 2014 at 5:47 am

David,

Whenever we have these discussions, I always walk away thinking that our basic difference of opinion centers more around the matter of church discipline than the matter of the Lord’s Supper, although I’m not entirely sure which is the engine and which is the caboose for either of us. I may hold the views I do about the Lord’s Supper because of my views about church discipline. You may hold the views that you hold about church discipline because of your views of the Lord’s Supper, or because of your views about ecumenicalism that drive your views about the Lord’s Supper that drive your views about church discipline.

Anyway, what I’m reading from you seems to suggest that you regard Matthew 18 as something that could only ever apply to a lost person who winds up fraudulently becoming a member of a local church. That’s just nowhere near my view, nor do I believe it to be a view that will survive exegetical scrutiny.

24 Nick Migliacci February 27, 2014 at 2:33 am

You said: “I further clarify that having refused scriptural baptism is a sin.”

How can you call something a sin, when it’s a non-essential matter of liberty? Or are you going to be like the Church of Christ (Campbellites) and say it’s required for salvation? If it’s not required for salvation, then it’s a non-essential matter of liberty, and you can’t say somebody has sinned for not doing it. If it’s not a matter of liberty, then you must say it is required for salvation.

25 cb scott February 27, 2014 at 2:39 am

Biblical baptism is not a matter of liberty. It is a matter of obedience to Christ by those of whom He has given “liberty.”

In Christ I am free. I am free to die to myself, take up the cross and follow Him in absolute obedience to Him in all things whatsoever He has commanded me, even death.

You are not at liberty, as a believer, to refuse to be baptized and there is only one biblical baptism — That being by immersion.

26 Tarheel February 27, 2014 at 7:17 am

Interesting thoughts, Nick.

27 Nate February 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Nick, I’ll take that on using Bart’s statement that membership is a matter of importance that is being lost. So, if one isn’t immersed, would you (if you are a pastor of a SBC church) allow them to become a member of your church. My church has strict by-laws that will not allow anyone to become a member if they are not immersed.

I’ll also ask whether you would allow a openly, professing, Roman Catholic to participate in the Lord’s Supper at your church? Or, for that matter, a professing Lutheran? They both do not believe what SBC churches believe the Ordinance to be. They would not (especially the RCC) allow you to participate in the Eucharist, why then would you have a problem limiting those who believe something totally contrary to you about the Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

Membership is not a matter of liberty. Baptism, for a SBC church, is also not a matter of liberty. If a person would profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and then refused to be immersed, even after being shown Scripturally the command of Christ to be baptized, that person would not be allowed to become a member of my church. Am I then to open the Lord’s table to a person who is in direct defiance of Scripture?

We are Baptists for a reason. We don’t live in a one-denominational world. I don’t expect my Catholic friends or my Presbyterian friends to open their tables to me, why do we think we should have to open the table to all who simply say I have followed Christ.

28 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Tarheel,

“…[your] Presbyterian friends [do in fact] open their tables to [you].” You are welcome at the Lord’s table anytime brother.

:)

29 Adam Blosser February 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Even anonymously?

30 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Adam,

Not sure what you mean by “anonymously.” We fence the table according to this thinking below (from the PCA BCO):

“Since, by our Lord’s appointment, this Sacrament sets forth the
Communion of Saints, the minister, at the discretion of the Session, before the observance begins, may either invite all those who profess the true religion, and are communicants in good standing in any evangelical church, to participate in the ordinance; or may invite those who have been approved by the Session, after having given indication of their desire to participate [new members]. It is proper also to give a special invitation to non-communicants to remain during the service.”

i.e., there is instruction as to what the table is all about and ten you are left to discern if you meet the qualifications. Believer and member of an evangelical church in good standing.

31 Adam Blosser February 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Sorry. I guess my joke wasn’t as funny as I thought it was. It was intended as a crack on Tarheel since the discussion of anonymous posters pops up every now and then.

32 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 12:59 pm

So Adam, assuming here that you are a believer and member of a SB church (thus credo immersed) and in good standing in that church (not under discipline) and you are sitting there you are welcome to the Lord’s table in my PCA church.

33 Adam Blosser February 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Oh, I realize that. I have participated in the Lord’s Supper at a PCA church. I was a good SB though and took the grape juice that was offered rather than the wine.

34 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Ha ha. I missed the joke. Sorry.

“I was a good SB though and took the grape juice that was offered rather than the wine.” :)

Let be known that I did not introduce the W word into this thread.

35 Tarheel February 28, 2014 at 3:19 pm

OK Im’ma try to hit all this at once –

Thanks Les! I knew that about Baptists being ‘allowed’ to partake at the …. shhhh…(Presbyterian church).

Adam Blosser, good attempt at jabbing me. You ain’t funny though. So shut it!

Les, I also noticed that you avoided the dreaded “w” violation. Good job, sir. Shame on Adam for doing it though.

;-)

36 Nick Horton February 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Nick,

Are all matters of obedience to God those of liberty? Are we at liberty to ignore the great commission or the great commandment? Are we at liberty to ignore compassion, mercy, love, fearlessness, and any number of other things we have been commanded to do? If we are, and it is not sin to do so, what IS sin? What is there to be atoned for if all are matters of liberty? Or do you suppose that the rules of the game change pre and post conversion?

Look forward to hearing your reasoning, I’m genuinely curious.

37 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Here’s a question (I know I already have a few others out there):

I’ve seen several on other posts hearken back to those who were (sadly) drowned over the issue of believer’s immersion. They are obviously making the case of the historical if not biblical importance of credo immersion.

So, is it the case that most Baptists would (hypothetically in modern day I suppose) die rather than be prevented credo immersion?

I know how important baptism is, whatever one’s view of the timing and mode. And I know we all agree that it is not salvivic. But is the timing and mode seen as an obedience issue one you would die for?

38 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Les,

“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”” (Acts 5:29)

Peter and the Apostles were willing to die over the Gospel. No, baptism is not salvific. However, we are commanded to obey Christ and be baptized. Why should I esteem my life higher than his command? There are plenty of believers around the world who endanger themselves by being baptized. And some die for it.

Yes, I think it’s worth dieing for. Not because baptism in itself is so worthy, but the God who commanded it is worthy of obedience no matter the cost.

39 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Nick,

Thank you for your candid reply.

40 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Nick, one follow up. Are you saying that you would be willing to die for credo immersion?

41 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 6:04 pm

No, I will not die for credo immersion. But, I would die for the God who commanded me to do it. If he commanded me to be baptized (and he has), and doing so meant my life, then so shall I die.

42 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Thanks Nick. Maybe I’m not being as clear as I should be. What I’m asking is, are you willing to die if you were faced with a situation where the timing and mode of baptism as you understand the scriptures to teach were forbidden? You would only be allowed sprinkling or pouring. I know it’s highly hypothetical for you. But I’m not asking if you were willing to die if you were denied baptism of any kind. But the one specific kind known as credo immersion.

43 Tarheel February 28, 2014 at 7:14 pm

I see where ya going, Les.

I don’t know if I would willing be a martyr over the mode of baptism.

But until I’m faced with that….Believers baptism by immersion is what I believe, practice, teach, and defend.

44 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Tarheel.

“But until I’m faced with that….Believers baptism by immersion is what I believe, practice, teach, and defend”

A fine answer indeed brother.

45 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I see. I think what I’d do is scheme a way to get baptism by immersion done. Be it a bathtub in the house of a church member, the private pool of a rich member, etc. However we could do it. You don’t have to hold a ceremony in the town square and provoke the fight. But, I’d do what I could to obey.

46 Les Prouty March 1, 2014 at 12:37 am

Thanks Nick. A fine answer too.

47 cb scott February 27, 2014 at 7:12 am

Why is my comment in moderation. Is Jared Moore minding the store again?

48 cb scott February 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

Posting the comment again in response to Nick Migliacci:

4 cb scott February 27, 2014 at 2:39 am
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Biblical baptism is not a matter of liberty. It is a matter of obedience to Christ by those of whom He has given “liberty.”

In Christ I am free. I am free to die to myself, take up the cross and follow Him in absolute obedience to Him in all things whatsoever He has commanded me, even death.

You are not at liberty, as a believer, to refuse to be baptized and there is only one biblical baptism — That being by immersion.

49 Nathan February 27, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Most of the comments have assumed that the only two options are by immersion as a believer or as an infant, but I know that some Mennonites practice believer’s baptism by pouring instead of immersion.

So from a close communion perspective, should a visiting Mennonite be eligible to take the Lord’s Supper? Is the timing the thing that most of you are viewing as crucial (after salvation) or is it the mode (immersion), or is it both?

50 John Fariss February 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Well said Nathan! Sometimes I think we have gotten bogged down and lost in the mode of baptism, when the earliest Baptists were clear that what mattered in baptism was its meaning. That, I think, is consistent with the New Testament witness about baptism: that it symbolizes a conscious decision on the part of one old enough to know the difference in right and wrong, and who has decided to follow Jesus. As most of the readers here know, the earliest Baptists baptized by pouring, not immersion. While the symbolism may not have completely paralleled New Testament baptism, their meaning did: they had made the decision as adults to follow Jesus, rather than having that decision made “for” them by parents.

John

51 Greg Harvey February 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Believer’s baptism at the age of 12 by pouring seems preferable to me–since it was consistent with early General Baptist practice–to immersion of children at age 4 or 5…

52 Greg Harvey February 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I have to confess: we permitted the baptism of our younger daughter at age five in spite of my feeling that delaying baptism until the early teens so that it is closer to an “adult” decision and a true “believer’s” baptism is probably generally better for the church (not to mention for the child.) The issues we’ve dealt with since then spiritually with her confirm my previous intuition and not the action we actually took.

53 Nick Horton February 28, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Sorry to hear brother. Praying for your family.

54 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Bart,

Interesting post. My first question may be answered pretty easily:

“Thus, any pedobaptist member of our church is necessarily someone against whom we would start discipline proceedings.”

How would a pedobaptist be a member in the first place? I assume if one of my children, who were baptized in the PCA by affusion (pouring, really the most common method in PCA circles at least), presented themselves for membership they would need to be immersed. Thus, not sure how you could have a paedo baptized (only) as a member, right?

Thanks brother.

55 Tarheel February 28, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Very astute observation, Les.

I too wonder how a person who has not been baptized by immersion can be accepted as a member of an SB church.

I know it’s a touchy subject – but it points, IMO, to the laxness of many (most) churches membership acceptance policies.

56 Bart Barber March 1, 2014 at 5:39 am

The same way paedobaptism got started in the first place: Someone in a baptizing church decides to start sprinkling. Have I ever seen it happen? No. But it is not an empty hypothetical, since it (a) clearly has happened historically and (b) is an important part of the rationale.

57 Dwight McKissic February 28, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Tarheel,

Where was the thief who was converted on the cross baptized? He wasn’t. His conversion was real and affirmed by Jesus: “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.”

Should we deny membership to a person whose testimony and walk is genuine, and lines up with Scripture; but, they were sprinkled in a Methodist context after a genuine conversion experience? Or shall we judge each matter of this nature on a case-by-case basis?

58 Tarheel February 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Baptism by immersion is a prerequisite for church Baptist church membership, is it not?

59 Dwight McKissic March 1, 2014 at 12:37 am

Tarheel,

Jog my memory. Does the BFM ’63, or 2000, say the baptism is a requirement for SBC church membership?

60 Adam Blosser March 1, 2014 at 12:45 am

Both say the exact same thing on that issue, that believer’s baptism by immersion is a requirement for church membership.

61 Les Prouty February 28, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Now I’m switching sides for a few minutes, moving to the other side of the plate if you will. Just dug out my SB ordination cert and propped it up next to me for authenticity.

I think that to be a member of any SB Baptist church one should have experienced credo immersion. My preference is more along the lines of what Piper tried to do a few years ago regarding other baptisms. But that’s just a personal preference.

Seems to me that according to any SB creed/confession baptism by immersion subsequent to conversion is mandatory.

Now who is admitted to the Lord’s table…well that’s the heart of this post.

62 Dwight McKissic March 1, 2014 at 1:20 am

Adam,

Thanks. We have a case working through our system as I speak, where the husband was immersed after conversion, the wife was sprinkled after conversion. I appreciate your info here. Right now she is classified as a premember. The question has been do we just allow her to remain as a premember, with limitations & restrictions that all my complete have. Or do we insist that she gets baptized? Her father was a Methodist Pastor. She is very satisfied with her “Methodist Baptism.” We are being patient. BTW, everyone joins our church as a premember. They are only extended membership & the right hand of fellowship after satisfactorily completing the premembership class. Clarifying baptism is a part of the completion of that class.

63 Tarheel March 1, 2014 at 3:51 am

I’m talking about church membership, not conversion.

There are lots of regenerate individuals who ave not been baptized by immersion since conversion – I just don’t think they can/should be members of a Baptist church. I also think they’re at minimum in error and potentially rebellious toward the teaching of the New Testament.

64 Dwight McKissic February 28, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Tarheel,

Also, if that person has been born-again into the Kingdom, and name is written in the Lamb’s book of life; should re not accept them as a member of our church on the basis of their membership in the Kingdom? Just asking. I’m sorting through this too.

65 Tarheel February 28, 2014 at 11:14 pm

No. We shouldn’t.

Rejection from membership in a baptist church does not exclude them from the Kingdom…there are other denominations and even non denominational churches that are within orthodoxy where they could find a home to fellowship with those of like order and practice.

66 Tarheel March 1, 2014 at 3:55 am

Or they could continue to attend and fellowship with our church without being a member….perhaps the teaching they’ll hear will prick their hearts and bring them to submission regarding believers baptism by immersion and subsequently membership.

I like the “premember process” you outlined.

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