Friday, May 28, 2010

Can a pedobaptist church be a valid church?

Bart Barber: "Can a pedobaptist church be a valid New Testament church? To that I would say, eventually not. I conclude from Christ's admonition to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2 that there is a probationary warning period during which a church is sinning in ways that disqualify it from being a church, but during which Christ patiently calls the church to repentance and awaits their obedience before actually 'removing their lampstand' so to speak. I conclude this from the fact that the Ephesian church itself was already guilty, but Christ had not yet removed their lampstand (but was merely warning that He would surely do so soon if they would not repent).

"Pedobaptist churches are in sin against God. They are in sin that disqualifies them from being a valid church. Has Christ yet executed judgment against them, or are they in His probationary period? I don't know how to answer that question. I suspect that hundreds of years is long enough."

From comments on Bart's blog post "Baptist Identity" Influences in My Life


Mark said...

I would say it is not a case of eventually not being a true church. They are absolutely not, based on pedobaptism alone.

Jesus said go into all the world and teach all nations and baptize them. Can't teach a 6 month old baby anything.So, to me it follows you shouldn't baptize those you can't teach about the Saviour.

I just cannot imagine the Apostle Paul watching a Presbyterian sprinkle a kid and say," Yes, that is exactly what I taught! Right there is a real Gospel ordinance!" No immersion= no baptism.

So, based on their refusal to follow the clear instructions of the Son of God, they cannot claim to be His church on that alone.They do not baptize the right people or in the right way.

Mark Osgatharp said...

If a legitimate church of baptized believers sprinkled one infant would they automatically cease to be a church in God's eyes? I doubt it.

If a church of unbaptized believers took it on themselves to start immersing believers would they become a church in God's eyes? I absolutely deny it.

Authority is essential to Scriptural baptism and baptism is essential to scriptural church membership. So a church of unbaptized people, even if true believers, cannot become a Scriptural church unless they receive baptism from a Scriptural church.

Most pedobaptist churches are composed primarily, if not exclusively, of people whose were sprinkled or immersed as infants. Therefore they have not met an essential condition of membership in the Lord's church and therefore are not valid churches.

Mark Osgatharp
Wynne, Arkansas

Adrian Neal said...


Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Infant baptism is me.

But, The Church (as I see it, and understand it, from my own research, not just what I've been told) is the people, not the building, or the man-made organization, or the shingle hung outside.

My mom and dad's "church" disbanded; it's now in the hands of the B.M.A. of Texas' mission dept. So, they are not members of any local assembly. (And, at their ages and health, it's hard for them to get out anyway.)

Would some say my parents WERE in The Church, but are now NOT in The Church?

I think when Paul was talking about "the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the church at Rome"...he was talking about the believers, the people, not a building, their meeting place, or an organization.

I believe there is one church, one called out assembly, that meets, assembles, in different locations.

The University of Texas and Texas A&M are in Austin and College Station, respectively. But, there are UT's 'at', and A&M's 'at'....

To suggest multiple "churches" would seem to suggest multiple brides of Christ. (However, the verse "the churches of Christ salute you" is a verse I have trouble with.)

I don't see any instance of a person "moving their letter" of membership to another "church" in the New Testament, and don't see where anyone "joined" a "church" in the New Testament...but where people were "added" to the church.

Jeff Woolverton
Tyler, TX.

(Sorry my point, or points, are a bit off the subject, but depending on how one sees THE church, some arguments are moot.)

Anonymous said...

Bro. Woolverton,

I agree with much of what you said. A structure is not a church, but a church building. There is no scripture which says you even have to have a designated structure. The Amish never have, as they meet in each other's homes on a rotational basis, as i believe some others do also.

I am sure you have heard some use the phrase "invisible church" as well. How they explain it does not make a lot of sense.

Jonathan Melton said...

Bro. Woolverton,

I have a problem with many associational practices such as the one you described. Boards or departments have no business taking control of a church. I would also agree insofar as a church is not a building but the people. According to Sciptural teaching, a church is a "local,visible assembly of Scriptural baptized believers descended from the one called out by Jesus Christ on the shores of Galilee with the sole purpose of carrying out the Great Commission." However, today this is being used to propagate the ideas that a church is not the building but anywhere two or three believers gather together. IOW, it is the old universal church teaching that a local church is the outward manifestation of the invisible Body of Christ which is made up of all the saved. This is heresy.

To the original thought of this posts, I agree with others that God certainly gives a true church a space of repentance: that's what most of the epistles were about--correcting errors in the churches. I have read accounts of churches on the ABA History and Archives site that for a time were influenced by Alexander Campbell's Restoration teaching by a pastor they had, but came back out of it. However, I believe there is a line to be crossed and we need to make the demarcation more clear instead of "when in doubt, rebaptize." I don't believe God works that way. Read 2 Timothy 3:16,17. That's one of two reasons we rebaptize pedobaptists: baptizing infants springs historically directly from baptismal regeneration which is a departure from the true plan of salvation. I believe we should also rebaptize Baptist churches that accept alien immersions from other denominations or from other Baptists that are fundmentally in error such as Free Will Baptists that believe it is possible to lose your salvation, or those that come from Baptist churches that practice open communion, pulpit affiliation, etc.

R. L. Vaughn said...

There's a lot to consider in what you all have posted, and I'll try to hit a few highlights. Like Bro. Osgatharp, I do think God gives a church space to repent, which would include a scriptural church making a mistake on baptism. Probably to consider a scriptural church sprinkling one infant engages the theoretical more than the practical. One that has gotten to that point surely must have mowed down a multitude of scriptural truth to get there.

Jeff, I strongly agree with your points that the church is the people and not the building, organization, etc. Even those of us who don't believe it is are often guilty of spreading this impression, by saying things like "First Church is on Main Street...", "Possum Hollow Church is made of white clapboard siding..." and so forth. I also agree that they formalized way that churches send letters to transfer membership is an exaggeration of what we see in the Bible (though we do see letters of recommendation written, Paul assaying to join the disciples at Jerusalem and such like). The logical end of your conclusion, though, I am not sure I understand as perpetuating the idea of many Baptists of "one true church" or whether you mean the Protestant idea of a universal church made up of all saved regardless.

With all (I think), I agree that infant baptism is no baptism at all. If a church starts out pedobaptist it is never a church at all.

Jonathan Melton said...

Bro. Vaughn,

I respectfully disagree that a church must "mow down a lot of scriptural truth" to get to the point we are discussing. You have those who claim to be Landmark pastors who are saying that they would not make a judgment call on a church even if they accept alien immersion if said church has Baptist on their sign, because they say we cannot play God. We accept wholesale SBC baptisms, we don't practice church discipline, we take our youth to Convention camps or nondenominational conferences, we use AWANA literature even though said organization is para-church, espouses universal church, and promotes ecumenism, use nondenominational praise bands or "Christian" rock to lead our worship, so do churches stand for ANYTHING anymore? I know that there are churches that still do, but it is becoming increasingly discouraging.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Brother Melton, you have every right to disagree, but please try to understand the context of my statement. You may not disagree that much after all. When I wrote about mowing down a multitude of scriptural truth, I was thinking specifically of Bro. Osgatharp's question whether if a legitimate church of baptized believers sprinkled one infant would they automatically cease to be a church in God's eyes? I think that is mostly a theoretical question. A church like I grew up in doesn't just wake up one Sunday and decide they are going to sprinkle an infant. That's why I say they have already mowed down a lot of scriptural truth before they would do that (sprinkle an infant). More than likely they would first keep baptizing adults by immersion but start receiving anyone who had been baptized somewhere else just on the strength of the individual being satisfied with his or her baptism.

Seems to me that the latter part of your post gives a list of where some of the "mowing down" is occurring.