Translate

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Infant baptism among Baptists

"[Sunday April 19, 2015, Pastor Rodney] Kennedy held the infant over a small bowl of warm water, used his hands to cup and pour the water over the baby’s head. He also anointed the child with oil and made the sign of cross on his forehead in name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

Nothing about that is likely to seem unusual -- unless one knows that Pastor Kennedy a Baptist and the place was First Baptist Church of Dayton, Ohio.[1] In Aiming to deepen rite’s meaning, Baptist pastor in Ohio baptizes infant, Jeff Brumley tells us the story of one Baptist church that not only accepts members who have previously received a rite of baptism as an infant, but has now actively performed such a baptism. (Well, a sprinkling anyway.) In the practice diverts from two important Baptist essentials -- immersion and confession of faith. That is, for Baptists, baptism is by the mode of immersion and that only on those who profess faith in Christ.

Elizabeth Newman, Professor of Theology at the moderate/liberal Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia says that "Kennedy is the first Baptist pastor...she’s known to baptize an infant."[2] From Brumley's article we can gain some idea of the chain of events that led to infant baptism in/by a Baptist Church.

  • A couple, church members, asked Pastor Kennedy to baptize their 7-month-old son
  • There was a month of prayer and discussion between the pastor and leaders of the congregation
  • Many years preceded over which the church and pastor had increased it liturgical practice
  • The church already accepted of the validity of infant baptism performed by others

What in Dayton, Ohio became perhaps a first for Baptists will not be a last. Many Baptists on the left edge have been moving this way for years. And the other edge the approval and adaptation of elements of Reformed theology points some of them in that direction as well.[3] What factors contribute or lead to Baptists practicing infant baptism?

Open membership
In 2005 John Piper, well-known and influential pastor Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota proposed "that excluding from membership a truly regenerate person who gives credible evidence of his saving faith is a more serious mistake than viewing the time and mode of baptism as essential to the qualifications for membership." Under such as open membership plan those baptized as infants who feel they cannot submit to believer's baptism in good conscience are allowed to join the church without being immersed on a profession of faith.[4] This is not new, but perhaps surprising due to the Piper's prominence among conservative Baptist types. At the time they performed the infant sprinkling, the church and Pastor Kennedy "already accepted the validity of infant baptism and we don’t make people get baptized" before joining First Baptist even if they were baptized as infants. So their position regarding baptism and open membership supported their decision to baptize an infant.

Ecumenism
The ecumenical desire to break down walls between denominations fosters this idea. The Baptist distinctive of believer's immersion as the only scriptural form of baptism is a barrier to the stated goal. Pastor Kennedy said, "I want to move closer to the ecumenical fellowship of the Christian church and by accepting infant baptism, and then practicing it, we are not set off from Presbyterians and Methodists and Catholics." Removing the distinctions in baptism is one step to closer ecumenical fellowship, and supported, for example, by the Baptist Union of Great Britain: "To date, the BU maintains that the mutual recognition of baptism as a concession to the liberty of conscience which they defend for all believers is, at present, the only tenable way forward for Baptists in the ecumenical movement." (Baptism and the Baptists, Anthony R. Cross)

Baby dedications
Baby dedications have become popular in many Baptist churches. While this does not necessarily lead to infant baptism, in the minds of many it dulls the distinction between the baptist theology and paedobaptist theology.[5] Professor Newman notes that "A lot of Baptist churches [are doing] baby dedications, which are a way of welcoming the child into the family — though not the membership — of the church." In his "arguments for welcoming Christians from other denominations into our membership without re-baptizing them," First Baptist, Richmond, Virginia,[6] Pastor Jim Somerville says that infant baptism "is almost identical to our own practice of baby dedication..."

"Kiddie" baptisms
Many otherwise staunchly conservative advocates of believer's baptism engage in the practice of "kiddie baptisms".[7] An example of the increasingly young age for so-called believer's baptism can be traced through Annual Church Profile reports of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2014 the SBC's Pastors’ Task Force on SBC Evangelistic Impact and Declining Baptisms reported that "the only consistently growing age group in baptisms is age five and under." [8] One writer said that in the SBC "the preschool age group saw a 96 percent increase from 1974 to 2010." The 2007 Annual Church Profile listed total baptisms by seven age groups, including Preschool B-5 (3878) Children 6-8 (45,825); Children 9-11 (61,792). Newer forms reduce the categories to four: 11 years and under; 12 to 17 years of age; 18 to 29 years of age; and 30 and up; thereby concealing the number of very young age baptisms.

Southwestern Professor of Theology James Leo Garrett Jr., rightly says that "believer’s baptism by immersion is probably the all-time central Baptist distinctive." Baylor Professor of Theology Roger Olson points out that "big-B" Baptists are extremely diverse -- but they have commonly been held together by the thread of believer's baptism by immersion. This thread is unraveling. Olson is an Arminian Baptist of the moderate/liberal spectrum.[9] He might be expected to approve of the choice of FBC, Dayton. Yet he concludes: "Some will no doubt view this event as a breakthrough in ecumenism and inclusivity. I view it as a betrayal of tradition and trust."

Faithfulness to the practice and of the New Testament demands the practice of believer's baptism. Baby dedications may meet an emotional need of the parents, but there is little evidence that such was a common New Testament practice (some point to Jesus blessing the children brought to him). If these are performed they should be kept distinct and eternal diligence should distinguish this from the practice and theology of infant baptism. "Kiddie baptism" is a latent and disguised form of infant baptism that should be rejected. There is no real theological or practical difference between baptizing a two year old who can parrot "I believe Jesus" and a two week old who cannot. The gradual growth of Baptists condoning “kiddie baptism" supports the prospect of infant baptism. Ecumenical efforts that cast off doctrinal truth ought to be avoided.

For Baptists (and we believe biblically), baptism means a confession of faith, identification with Christ, and a radical life commitment. It is given by God for adults who can confess and commit.[10]

Related links
Can a Pastor Baptize an Infant and Remain Baptist? (Some Thoughts about Identities)
Was Infant Baptism Practiced in Early Christianity
Baptism: Infant vs. Child Baptism among Baptists
The Problem with Open Membership: Where I Disagree with John Piper

Footnotes
[1] First Baptist Church of Dayton belongs to American Baptist Churches U.S.A. and the Alliance of Baptists. On their website page about membership First Baptist states, "Persons joining First Baptist Church from other denominations are not obligated to be baptized by immersion. First Baptist Church accepts the baptism of all Christian churches."
[2] Newman's position among the more moderate ecumenical type Baptists puts her in a good position to be aware of infant baptism in Baptist churches.
[3] Though in their case it may move them away from being called by the name Baptist.
[4] At the time the church did not pass the plan. I am not sure of its current status.
[5] For example, Great Bridge Baptist Church affirms that "Baby Dedication is a commitment service where parents promise to raise their child in a God honoring way" and informs that they do "not baptize children until they are old enough to articulate their understanding and belief. The Bible assures us that every baby is secure in the Grace of God."
[6] Jeremiah Bell Jeter pastored FBC Richmond 1836 to 1849.
[7] One extreme example of the aura, not just the age, surrounding these "kiddie baptisms" is the firetruck baptistry at Springdale, Arkansas. (I have a record that shows a child, one month shy of three years old, was a member of First Baptist Church of [name withheld] Texas.) "A third important development [concerning baptism, 1955-1970] is the problem of the baptism of young children...They find themselves coming closer and closer to infant baptism. In 1969 Southern Baptists baptized 1422 children under six years of age..." (Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Vol. 3, page 1585)
[8] This is based on the ACP for 2012.
[9] Olson is a five-point Arminian and has an ecumenically broad view of what constitutes Christian orthodoxy. He advocates an ecumenism of "reconciled diversity', not sameness."
[10] This does not question whether God can save who he chooses at what age he chooses. But baptism following profession signifies confession and commitment, which small children cannot do.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Brief Word Study, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Miscellaneous Memorials on Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day, observed in the United States to remember of those who died in the nation's service.

Memorial Day 2016 Facts: 13 Things To Know About The History, Origin Of The Holiday

Some Scripture Memorials
Memorial of the Passover
Exodus 12:14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Memorial of crossing Jordan
Joshua 4:7 then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

Memorial of great service
Mark 14:9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

Memorial of the Lord's Death
1 Corinthians 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

The Lord his own Memorial
Hosea 12:5 even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial.

Japheth, a tune

Back in June of last year, I promised to try to post this tune, and I see now that I failed to do so. It is a type of memorial song, so I hought it would be appropriate for Memorial Day. This tune JAPHETH was written for the hymn Rest on Jesus' bosom. This tune has some unintended affinities to my tune WILEY in a few places (See p. 514 in The Sacred Harp, 2012 Cooper Edition).






Sunday, May 29, 2016

If I Could Choose My Way

If I could choose my way
And chart my course down life's uncertain sea,
Perhaps, O loving Lord, it would not be
The course which Thou in love had planned for me.
I'd shun, perhaps, the dark and dangerous deep,
And strive along the shallow shore to keep,
To drift, by gentle breezes lulled to sleep--
If I could have my way.

And having my own way,
I'd never know thy wonder-working pow'r,
Thy strength, Thy grace in life's most trying hour,
When death stood waiting, ready to devour.
I'd never know the thrill of Thy sweet voice
That bid me in the darkness to rejoice.
How much, O Lord, I'd lose, were mine the choice--
If I could have my way.

If I could have my way--
O Jesus, were that pow'r giv'n to me,
I'd dare not choose a path apart from Thee.
Be Thou my guide, where'er Thy way may be.
Safe in Thy love, I fear no rocks ahead;
The wild and boisterous billows bear no dread.
No way but Thine, dear Lord, would I be led--
Choose Thou my way.

Avis B. Christiansen

Saturday, May 28, 2016

It's all about the money

I recently noticed one church that has six ways to give (there's probably many of these). If you're fortunate to be a part of this church you can give:

  • IN WORSHIP - when the offering plate is passed
  • ONLINE – PayPal and other such methods
  • KIOSK - Giving kiosks placed strategically on the church "campuses"
  • MAIL - Send it to the Business Office
  • AUTOMATED/RECURRING - automatic draft from checking or savings account
  • TEXT - text your church the amount of a donation and send (not sure how this works?)

We're here to please. Please give.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Songs Before Unknown E-Book

My Sacred Harp history book Songs Before Unknown became available in November 2015. It is now also available in an e-book. Singer and typesetter Karen Willard has prepared a version that is "a fully text searchable e-book suitable for kindles, iPads, and other tablets." 

I'm an "old-school" book person myself. I don't use or understand all that much about the e-books. But I know many people today prefer the advantages they find in e-books. This electronic version can be especially good for singers overseas. Postage costs to get the hard copy shipped to them are extremely costly. The e-book will sell for $10, which is a $5 savings over the hard copy, plus saving postage. If are interested, you can e-mail me for more information: rl_vaughn@yahoo.com .

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Just one more case...

If you don't toe the "party line" (in this case if you make ESPN mad) you'll get edited out of history.

ESPN Erases Sports History: Network Edits Schilling’s ‘Bloody Sock’ Game Out of Red Sox Versus Yankees Documentary -- "But, most sports and Sox fans agree, Schilling’s Game Six performance was the most incredible of the whole series. And for some reason, that is the segment ESPN decided to cut in what it claims were time constraints that could not be made up later because of live event coverage earlier in the day."

Smarter people, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rufus Burleson...was a landmarker

In 2009 Wade Burleson wrote a nice piece on his Texas ancestor Rufus Columbus Burleson, The Baptism of General Sam Houston by Rufus C. Burleson

A few years before that he tried to answer the question of whether Rufus Burleson...was a landmarker, thusly:
Nope. If my forefather Rufus Burleson was a Landmarker he sure made enemies of his buddies :). He integrated education (men and women) at Baylor -- a drastic step for his time -- and refused to back down when confronted, was considered a liberal by Landmark Texas Baptists, particularly because he served as BGCT President for two terms, and was eventually slandered in both character (accused of a relationship with a young coed at Baylor) and ministry by his enemies.
Ancestor or not, Wade got it wrong. Integrated education of men and women has nothing to do with Landmarkism. Burleson was president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1892 and 1893, before the split of the convention -- and was most likely elected with the support of the Landmark element which eventually split from the convention. Landmarkers, as far as I know, did not slander his character. The chief accuser and antagonist of Burleson was Waco newspaperman William Cowper Brann, neither a Landmarker nor a Baptist, and probably not even a Christian. Baptists defended Burleson and Baylor against Spann, but some leading Baptists in the Baptist General Convention of Texas used this controversy in a power play to remove him from the presidency of Baylor University.[1] My great-grandfather was among his supporters when he was forced out of the presidency, and our church instructed its delegates to the Baptist General Convention in 1897 to vote for the "restoration of Bro. R. C. Burleson to the presidency of Baylor university." Rufus C. Burleson was a self-identified Landmarker who held the principles that make one so. Probably part of Wade's mistake is following the line created by Texas (and other) Southern Baptists who fear their own landmarker heritage, or misunderstand what it is. Rufus Burleson disagreed with some of the extremes to which Landmarkism carried some of his fellow Baptists, and apparently supported the Southern Baptist Convention until the end of his life. On the other hand, there is some evidence that he sympathized with the new Baptist Missionary Association of Texas over the old Baptist General Convention of Texas when they split in 1900. And Burleson strongly supported S. A. Hayden, whose controversies were the main source of antagonism that brought about the split.

From the historical record, notice Burleson held the following tenets of Landmarkism:

The church is a local autonomous body authorized by Jesus Christ to evangelize, baptize, and teach His disciples.
"let us stand firmly on the old landmarks established by Christ and His apostles..." p. 278
"He demonstrated that the church was the highest and only authority in all matters of church government." p. 640
He believed "All legislation, canon, creed or decree, springing from tradition, ecclesiastical authority, or usage of antiquity, not enjoined in the Scriptures, is to be resisted and rejected, from whatever source it may come, either inside the local church, or outside, as intolerable in the faith and practice of the churches. That a Christian church must be made up of persons who are morally regenerated; and that it is not a simple voluntary association, but a body of people called out of the world around them, by Christ's special authority, to be a people peculiar to himself." p. 92

Jesus organized His church during His personal ministry, promised its continued existence, and that church (generically) still exists today.
From a sermon preached at Second Baptist, Waco in 1897 we find, "Immediately after his baptism and establishment of his church, Jesus retired to the wilderness and spent forty days in prayer and fasting..." pp. 641-642
In the bio of Z. N. Morrell, he writes, "For 1,500 years Baptists had resisted unto death the innovation of sprinkling, infant baptism, episcopacy, popery and every other innovation." pp. 682
"Another man objected seriously to Baptist "close communion," for, said he, the bread and wine are to show forth the Lord's death, and I don't believe we ought to close the doors at communion. And I actually met people that thought Roger Williams founded the Baptist Church and others that Baptists originated with the Anabaptists of Germany. They had never learned that Christ founded the Baptist Church when He said, "Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, neither shall it be destroyed nor given to another people"—Matt. 16:18, Dan. 2:44—and that Heaven and earth could pass away sooner than that promise could fail, and that church history demonstrates, as Sir Isaac Newton and others have shown, has never failed." p. 726

Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water by the authority of a local New Testament church; believers who have been immersed by other denominations must submit to baptism by an authorized administrator.
In the bio of Tyrell J. Jackson, Burleson mentions Independence Church being "in the midst of the fearful struggles of the little handful of Baptists with Campbellites as led by the unfortunate leader, T. W. Cox. The little church at Independence was nearly equally divided; thirteen in favor of Cox and twelve Baptists firmly set on the Old Land Marks." He goes on to identify "the grand old landmark, that "three things are essential to a valid baptism: 1. A converted believer. 2. A regularly ordained Baptist preacher in good standing. 3. Immersion in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." pp. 718-719

The Lord's supper is restricted to baptized believers who are walking in orderly church capacity.
He believed "the Supper should only be celebrated when the local church is met in one place as a body." p. 92
"Another man objected seriously to Baptist "close communion," for, said he, the bread and wine are to show forth the Lord's death, and I don't believe we ought to close the doors at communion. And I actually met people that thought Roger Williams founded the Baptist Church and others that Baptists originated with the Anabaptists of Germany." p. 726
"And more; we, as a denomination, have the truth—we are the only denomination that has the whole truth, so far as the ordinances of church organization are concerned; hence, we have the religious world against us." p. 279 --From A "Report of Committee of Education" which included Rufus C. Burleson, 1855

All quotes are from The Life and Writings of Rufus C. Burleson

From "The Old Guard Biographies" 
"Brother Huckins, like most men brought up under the shadow of Plymouth Rock, was not an old Landmark Baptist--did not "contend earnestly for the faith," and had never explained Baptist faith and Bible doctrine. I was astonished at the utter ignorance of people of rare intelligence about Baptist practice and history." p. 725 
Bio of Hosea Garrett:" All the Old Guard, except three, were genuine Old Landmarkers from the beginning. When they were converted, baptized and ordained they were "set" firmly on the Old Landmarks, and never needed "resetting." Bro. J. R. Graves and the great Dr. J. M. Pendleton had received members into Baptist churches on Pedo-baptist or alien immersion, and engaged in union meetings and needed "resetting" the worst kind, but alas! in resetting their Old Landmarks, and not being very familiar with the old lines, they took in "Pulpit Communion" or affiliation and other points that were not included in the old landmarks set by our fathers, that God commands us not to remove." p. 702

When Southern Baptists deny the Landmarkism of certain forefathers of their faith, it does not prove these forefathers were not Landmarkers -- but that the deniers do not understand or appreciate Landmarkism and only associate it with those who left the Convention. Alan Lefever, director of the Texas Baptist Historical Collection, said of B. H. Carroll, “If he was a Landmarker, he was a denominational Landmarker—and that doesn’t make sense.” But what Lefever says is what doesn’t make sense, and certainly won’t make any sense at all to denominational Landmarkers who still participate in the Southern Baptist Convention!

Carroll -- B. H. -- was a "Landmarker"
[1] He agreed to become President Emeritus, but that was not his preference. In accepting it, he said, "My dear brethren, I wish, in all kindness and love, to say this is a sad innovation on all the laws and usages of Baylor University for 46 years, and by which she has achieved her usefulness and glory. And I solemnly fear that great evil will result from such innovation. But to decline and dissolve my connection with Baylor University, for which I have sacrified 46 years e£ ceaseless toil and $18,000 inherited from my father and father-in-law, would bring irreparable damage on my life purpose in founding a great Baptist University. I will, therefore, accept the position assigned me, and give it a fair trial, and do all in my power to advance the glory of Baylor University." -- From The Complete Conspiracy Trial Book, by S. A. Hayden, page 321

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Preaching pride, punctured

The new pastor felt good after preaching his first message at his new church. While driving home he asked his wife, "How many great preachers do you think are in the world?"

She answered, "I dunno, but one less than you think there are."

--

A young preacher was invited to a large church to preach. He primped and polished his prize sermon and was filled with the pride of it. He knew he would impress the congregation. When the time arrived he bounded into the pulpit in full confidence with great satisfaction. But once there, looking out at the crowd, he stumbled and fumbled and made quite a mess delivering the message and was not soon enough glad to be finished. After the minutes that seemed like hours, head drooping, he shuffled down the steps toward his seat. The old pastor leaned over and said to him, "Son, if you'd gone up the way you came down, you might have come down the way you went up."