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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dilemma

This is one of my question entries. I have a situation to examine and I'm hoping you will help me out. It is a genuine dilemma as opposed to one for which I already have an answer, so your input would be appreciated.

Here's the notion. It is an example, so if it doesn't fit your viewpoint, substitute a similar one. But since I suspect that most of my readers don't believe in infant baptism, this should fit most of my readers. So, let's say you have a brother in Christ, a genuine believer, who happens to be convinced that infant baptism is biblical and, therefore, right. He moves to a new town and is going to a church that he and his family enjoy very much. Further, the church is the only one in the area that is remotely suitable. So he decides that they should join the church. In the membership process, they find that one requirement for membership at this church is to be baptized. "But," he tells them, "I have been baptized. I was baptized as an infant." He sees this as a non-issue. It is "biblical baptism" to him and can't imagine why it would be a problem. "No," they tell him, "we only believe in 'believers baptism.' If you are going to be a member of this church, you will need to be baptized again." Now, this is a problem for him. You see, he believes that a second baptism after that one as an infant would represent a violation of faith. It would be like telling God, "I know You did it once, but it wasn't good enough. We're going to need another one." It would be an offense to God.

So you can see his problem. He can discard his beliefs and join the only church in his vicinity that provides the teaching and fellowship he and his family needs. Or he can retain his beliefs and not join the church. (Note that "joining the church" is no small matter. It is the only way in which the church allows genuine involvement like teaching, serving, ministry, that sort of stuff. It's the only way to really be part of the church.) So, assuming you disagree with his belief in infant baptism, what would you advice this friend? (If you believe in infant baptism, your approach would obviously be different. That's the "doesn't fit" part and you may need to approach the concept from a different set of particulars.)

I can see at the outset that you might set out to convince him that he needn't hold on to his infant baptism beliefs. You may try to show him that Scripture doesn't support it. You may discard his argument that the Early Church held to it. You may even suggest that his belief that a second baptism would be an offense to God is faulty. But, assuming he is not lightly entrenched in those positions, but thoroughly dug in, you're back to the beginning of the question.

So, what do you suggest? Would you tell him that he should join the church and keep his beliefs quiet and "God will forgive your offense for a good cause"? Would you suggest he go to another church which would coincide with his beliefs (assuming it's even possible) even if it means traveling a great distance and, likely, a much smaller opportunity for involvement? Or perhaps you'd be so opposed to his belief that you might suggest he repent and receive Jesus as his Savior ... and be baptized? "If you're going to hold to that belief and call yourself a Christian, I'm going to have to sever my ties with you." What would you suggest? What would you do? I really want to know because I'm not getting a clear path on this one myself.

36 comments:

Mike said...

I would point out that it is a requirement to join. Just as getting a marriage license is a requirement to get married instituted by the government, you still have to get one. Even if you are of the firm belief that marriage is a covenant between you, God and your spouse. In order to sign up, you have to follow the rules. But we still have to respect his belief even if it's wrong.

If you haven't already done so, read 1 Corinthians 8. That might be helpful...

4simpsons said...

I was hoping you'd summarize that with a tidy answer! That is a tough one, with both seeming to lead to the "don't violate your conscience" theme of Romans 14. If you think it is a sin to be re-baptized and a sin not to attend the only decent church in the area then do you start your own church? Move? Go with the lesser of two (possible) sins? I'll check back later for when you divulge the answer you're holding back.

Stan said...

"I would point out that it is a requirement to join."

Without disagreeing with your statement, I wonder if I could ask you to back that up. On what do you base that position? (It might be helpful for me and others if you could offer the support for that.) Many people "go to church" and are even involved in their church without "joining" in any official way, so I'm very interested in why you say it's a requirement to do so.

On 1 Cor 8, I've read it. Could you go a little farther and tell me what you see there (that pertains to the question at hand)?

Stan said...

Sorry, Neil, but this one really is a dilemma. I don't actually have a tidy answer. I'm not actually holding back a clever response. Your wisdom would be appreciated.

Mike said...

Stan,
Maybe I wasn't clear in my punctuation... I didn't mean that joining is a requirement. I meant that being baptized is required in order to join as a member.
To me, that says when one joins, they are agreeing with all the requirements set forth in order to become a member of that church. Agreements are not something to be taken lightly. In OT terms, one my say the are making a covenant.

Stan said...

Oh, yeah, I see now. My mistake. Yes, baptism would be a requirement to join. And in that church, "believers baptism" is required. So even though this fellow says, "But, I have been baptized", it wouldn't suffice. Yes, if he wants to join that church, he needs to agree with their requirements. If he wants to join that church, he must be re-baptized. If he chose to be re-baptized (contrary to his own beliefs) and remain silent about his own beliefs, though, he could join that church. But is that advisable?

David said...

I don't see how getting re-baptized is a problem. It isn't as if he has rejected Christ and is trying to come back, thus re-crucifying Him. He is merely reaffirming his association with Christ as a mature Christian by his own choice, not by the hopes of his parents. Getting re-baptized says nothing about the sufficiency of Christ's work in him. If I had been baptized as an infant I'd want to be baptized because part of baptism is the symboligy of my death, burial, and resurrection in Him. What reason could there be NOT to be re-baptized? I went through this very same problem with my wife. Luckily we were able to convince her of the faulty practice of infant baptism. But I think the best argument wouldn't be against his belief, but his reason for refusal.

As to the topic of it being a requirement, I agree but only so far as it is not something sinful being asked of him. My church also requires baptism for membership, and I have never felt more connected to a church as when I covenented myself to this church.

I am surprised that he is going to a church like that that would seem to hold different beliefs than him. I find it hard to believe his biggest difference with them would be infant baptism. A lot more goes on before getting to infant baptism.

Craig said...

I guess, I'd go further back and ask if baptism is essential (obviously it is a membership requirement for this church).

Stan said...

David,

Perhaps you've never heard of the "anabaptists". They were a splinter group around the time of the Reformation. Their name was not their own choosing; it meant "re-baptizers". They were considered heretics.

To the paedobaptists (infant baptism), baptism is more than a symbol. It is the New Testament version of circumcision (Col 2:11-12). Baptism signifies cleansing, regeneration, union with Christ, justification by faith, and initiation into the Covenant community and Body of Christ. These are all one-time things. To give in to this would be to say that "My choice of Christ is more significant than His choice of me." (I'm not defending their view; just explaining it.)

As for the differences, I think you will find that the "vast gap" between Arminians and Calvinists, between paedobaptists and credobaptists, and such isn't as vast as so many would like us to think. These things are in the details, not the prime essence.

Stan said...

Craig, I think it's at least necessary in that it is commanded, right? "Repent and be baptized." It's interesting to note that both Jews and Muslims don't seem to mind if someone from their group "converts" as long as they don't get baptized. Once baptized, they're ostracized. It seems, both biblically and experientially, to be quite significant.

Craig said...

Stan,

I agree that baptism is commended, and I would heartily encourage any believer that it is an important symbol of Christs work. But I don't see that is necessary for salvation. I would point to any of the OT folks who were not baptized as well as the thief on the cross as examples of non baptized people who seem to have been saved. Again, I believe baptism to be normative, but not required.

Personally I am in a denomination where infant baptism is the official practice. I was baptized as an infant as were my kids. I, like David, have no problem with the concept of being baptized as an infant as well as later as a believer. My view is that infant baptism is a covenant between the parents and the Church regarding the child. I find the parallel between infant baptism and the bris to be a reasonable one, so I really don't see the conflict.

Stan said...

Craig, I see your point. However, the question here isn't about the efficacy of baptism for salvation. To join the church, my brother in Christ is required by the church to be baptized in order to be a member. Being baptized again would violate his own beliefs. He can 1) choose to violate his beliefs and get re-baptized to join the church or 2) retain his good conscience and not be part of that church.

Since no one has been able to talk him out of his beliefs, I'm looking for an alternative recommendation.

Craig said...

Stan,

I understand your dilemma. My approach is to begin by looking at what baptism is and is not. What I have found is that I don't believe it is necessary for salvation.

In your friends case, my advice would be to go ahead and get baptized if he feels that this church is where God has called him. He does have a third option which would be to attend the church without joining.

I don't envy his choice or your dilemma, given the situation there doesn't seem to be an answer that will be satisfying to him.

Dan Trabue said...

If I might dip a toe in here, Stan, I guess I don't see the problem.

If I was in a community with NO churches (say a Muslim nation, for instance), I'd worship the best I could with anyone interested in joining me. That would be church.

If I were the only one interested, then THAT would be church.

What is wrong with worshiping catch as catch can? I greatly enjoy the worship experience found in a local congregation, but if it weren't available, or the only options were not acceptable to me, then the easy answer would be to worship the best I could.

Other than the loneliness, I don't see the problem in that solution.

Having said that, even though I'm in a very small minority faith tradition, I can't imagine not being able to find some congregation/group to worship with, even if it was at the local coffee shop.

Stan said...

Craig, yes, I would call into question his position on baptism. Without even disputing infant baptism or not, I would point out, for instance, Acts 19 where disciples were rebaptized.

And your point is well taken. If he believes this is where God would have him and they require it, he should do it and question his own position. If he believes that his own position is inviolable, then he must not be where God would have him and joining would be out of the question.

Stan said...

Dan,

If you define "church" as "a place to go to worship", then I suppose I'd see your view. But if it is a place where ministry happens, where spiritual gifts are exercised, where fellowship occurs, where involvement is not only approved, but recommended, then alone won't work. And if "church" is a place where you are to minister, then it would seem like a good thing to be in agreement with the ministry.

Of course, the question really isn't about what I think or what you think. It's about what my friend thinks. He doesn't think "catch as catch can" is sufficient. He doesn't think "wherever" is satisfactory. He believes he must be involved. Involvement requires membership. Membership requires rebaptism. Rebaptism requires violating his principles. The question, then, isn't about what you or I would feel comfortable with, but what would be right for him. I mean, I can't just tell him, "Hey, look, forget about your convictions about baptism or even about church. Just feel good about finding worship wherever you can!" Doesn't work.

Craig said...

Stan,

After your last, I guess I would approach him and determine what has caused him to reach his position on baptism. I really don't see anything scriptural that would support his position. I applaud his conviction on what involvement requires. If he really feels like God is calling him then he's going to have to decide between his view of baptism v. God's call.

Craig said...

FYI,

I'm not sure how I would feel about a church that would require someone to be re baptized. It seems like if you have been baptized in a recognized church that should be good enough.

Stan said...

Craig, I think your previous response really shed light on it for me. I think that he should either conclude that God wants him at that church and, therefore, his convictions may be wrong. (As you said, "I really don't see anything scriptural that would support his position." Neither do I.) If God doesn't want him at that church, then go with his convictions and find where God wants him to be.

Craig said...

Stan,

Thanks.

traineralakemp said...

"To the paedobaptists (infant baptism), baptism is more than a symbol. It is the New Testament version of circumcision (Col 2:11-12). Baptism signifies cleansing, regeneration, union with Christ, justification by faith, and initiation into the Covenant community and Body of Christ."

But that's the rub isn't it? When a child is baptized, are they doing so as a symbol of their own justification by faith, their own union with Christ, of their own regeneration? None of those things have taken place yet. As a paedobaptist, one could argue that they are being initiated into the Covenant community as an infant. But all the other things baptism is a symbol for? Your protagonist in this story hasn't been baptized as a symbol for any of those things. Sounds like he does need to do it again.

I would agree with you that if this is where God wants them, then he needs to humble himself before the authority God has put him under. Is being re-baptized really a reason to not be in fellowship at all? I think those two considerations might out weigh his personal conviction on being re-baptized (if he did it right the first time at all).

Marshall Art said...

OR, maybe he could just cross his fingers. :)




Sorry.

Stan said...

traineralakemp,

To the paedobaptist, the "circumcision" of baptism places them within the covenant community of Christ. It is seen as an act of faith that, when realized, also signifies all the other components. If, for the paedobaptist, baptism merely placed the infant in the covenant community, then all paedobaptists would require two baptisms. But to the paedobaptist the infant baptism is an act of faith of the parents intended to carry over to (and be ratified by the eventual faith of) the infant.

I should point out that there are some in the paedobaptist camp who believe that baptism saves -- see, for instance, 1 Peter 3:21 -- and that this baptism as an infant is indeed genuine salvation that is later continued in their own faith. They do believe in baptismal regeneration. There are Lutherans in this camp, some Presbyterians, and even the Roman Catholics lean this way. They see infant baptism as the "first salvation" that protects the child until his or her own faith comes into play.

I should also point out that, while I could likely do a fair job of defending some of these views, I don't hold them myself. That makes it a bit more difficult for me. I see baptism as New Testament circumcision, sure, but biblical circumcision took place "after birth" and the "birth" in view in the New Testament is the "new birth", so I would call on baptism after the new birth. So all I'm doing here is dealing with views with which, ultimately, I disagree.

Marshall,

Nice ... but I don't think it would work. ;)

traineralakemp said...

"To the paedobaptist, the "circumcision" of baptism places them within the covenant community of Christ. It is seen as an act of faith that, when realized, also signifies all the other components."

But now it seems, since not all babies who are baptized eventually end up being saved, you've taken the word "symbol" to mean "representing that which might not happen but may some day happen".

Stan said...

"you've taken the word 'symbol' to mean 'representing that which might not happen but may some day happen'"."

That's always been a sticking point for me as well. Their response would be to point back to Old Testament circumcision. All (males) who were born into Israel were marked by circumcision as a sign (symbol) of their being one of the "chosen". Yet we know that not all who were so marked were eventually "chosen" -- saved. "So," they would say, "it would appear that God chose a symbol to represent something that someday may not be the case."

workerinwood said...

Hi Stan and all! I am the person to which Stan is referring. First let me say that he did an excellent job of laying out the situation I and my wife faced when moving to Lake County, CA. Yes, I am a convinced paedobaptist. I came from a PCA church in Texas, but had not thoroughly examined the question of baptism until I was attending a 'reformed' bible church strongly influenced by John MacArthur.

I welcome the opportunity to ask my anti-paedobaptist friends and fellow believers why it is that most Baptist churches require convinced paedobaptists to become rebaptized, repudiating the legitimacy of their infant baptism? Presbyterians do not require prospective members to agree to paedobaptism, they only require members to have a credible profession of faith. After all isn't that what it means to be a follower of Christ, and to be included in the true church? On what basis does a Baptist church exclude someone who has a credible profession of faith, who they expect to meet in heaven before God, from joining their church? I think it clarifies the situation to say that it is more difficult to get into these Baptist churches than it is to get into heaven. This seems misguided, shortsighted, and wrong to me. This probably does not just apply to Baptist churches, but to any church that adds any requirement other than a credible profession of faith to their membership requirements.

Understand here the only reformed church in the county is the one in question. My only alternative is to join a church an hours drive away, over twisting mountain roads. This ended up being the choice we made, but we believe we were were misguidedly put between a rock and a hard place without any good alternative.

It seems to me that such churches confuse essential doctrine, with non-essential and impose a virtual excommunication on paedobaptists, but without necessarily intending to do so.

What would such a church do with a member or church leader who became convinced paedobaptism is the correct understanding of Scripture? They are no longer in 'substantial agreement' with their doctrinal position disagreeing with a point of doctrine that is pivotal in church membership. Do they now exclude them from membership and force them to drive to a church two counties away? I just do not think they have fully followed the implications of their position.

You see, such churches require paedobaptist churches to exist so that paedobaptists can join a church somewhere. Do such Baptist churches understand that excluding believers from their church on the basis of non-essentials like baptism actually says that they believe these believers should not be able to join a church anywhere? If this is not true, then what is this 'private' doctrine they hold? That is, a doctrine of church membership that applies to Baptist churches, but not to all churches?

I have other questions to ask, but this should suffice for now. What do you think?

Stan said...

I suppose it's true about Baptist churches, although I'm not sure if it is universally true. On the other hand, I also know it's not universally true in other non-Reformed, non-paedobaptist churches. I know people, baptized as infants, who are have been members (not just congregants) of churches that believe in believers' baptism only. That is, these churches didn't mandate believers' baptism even though they taught it.

I think that the numbers of people opposed to paedobaptism is much less than previously. They don't agree with it, but don't oppose it. Just like baptism by immersion used to be the "only effectual baptism" to so many and now other methods have come into play, I don't think that most are opposed to paedobaptism. I can't say that's because they've become more aware and open-minded, however. I think it's more likely because they've become less informed on Scripture and doctrine and more inculcated in the "live and let live" view of the world.

Stan said...

workerinwood,

I have to say that I don't think, in retrospect, that I answered your question(s). Let me give it another shot.

"I welcome the opportunity to ask my anti-paedobaptist friends and fellow believers why it is that most Baptist churches require convinced paedobaptists to become rebaptized, repudiating the legitimacy of their infant baptism?"

Here, I think, is the thinking. I think we can all agree that the Bible views baptism as important to Christianity. It is commanded. It is practiced. It is repeatedly mentioned. It's one of those "really up there" things. So we agree that it's important. The next obvious question might be "What is it?" I mean, it's not like we could all agree that baptism is important and then figure that anyone who owns a kitty or eats a cake is baptized, right? It is something, and that something is important.

Well, here's what we do know. 1) It involves dipping. That is, the word means "to dip", so it must involve some sort of dipping. 2) That dipping, in every example we can find, is in water. Okay so far. 3) It means something more. Paul describes it in Romans 6 as being baptized into Christ's death, obviously a symbolic thing since there are no "baptisms" that involve physically being nailed to a cross. Peter says, "Baptism now saves you" but goes on to clarify that it's not a matter of being physically cleansed, but "an appeal to God for a clear conscience." That's what we know and can all likely agree upon. So, we have this important "dipping" with water involved that symbolizes our death in Christ and our salvation, a very important symbol.

Here's where the problem occurs. Having agreed that baptism is important and intending to nail down just what it is, many (MacArthur included) have concluded that baptism is an act of faith on the part of the believer. There are, for instance, absolutely no explicit examples in the Bible of infant baptism. But there are many examples of believers being baptized. So here's the thinking. "We know that baptism is good, even necessary for believers. We do not know that it has any value to infants. Since it is important and since we can be sure that it is important for believers, that's what we will require."

A couple of interesting points by way of perspective. First, it's not a problem at all for the paedobaptist in reverse. That is, all paedobaptists agree that if you haven't been baptized and you become a believer, you ought to be baptized. Thus, paedobaptists embrace both infant and believers' baptism. That's because it agrees with their understanding of baptism, not because they're so "open-minded". Second, I've seen something similar practiced in Reformed churches. Believing that the Lord's Supper is also important, much like baptism, they will exclude people in the congregation that are not "members in good standing". That the said congregant would claim to be a believer in good standing isn't enough. These churches believe that it is important enough to prevent someone from doing the wrong thing.

In the same way, Baptist churches 1) believe baptism to be vital, 2) are convinced of believers' baptism, and 3) believe it's important enough to err on the side of caution. Does that help at all?

Stan said...

You had other questions, too.

"What would such a church do with a member or church leader who became convinced paedobaptism is the correct understanding of Scripture?"

That, of course, would be up to the individual church, I'm sure. Here's what I've been told on more than one occasion. "It's okay if you disagree with some of the less essential doctrines as long as you don't teach in opposition to our position." So if you're "in" and change your mind on this, the ones I've talked to wouldn't mind. Nor would they mind if you believed in paedobaptism and agreed to be rebaptized.

Something I'd like to point out ... as gently as I can. You were ... offended, for lack of a better word, that this church (these churches) asked you to set aside your belief in paedobaptism in order to conform to their beliefs. You seem to think that it was wrong of them to do so. I am a little confused about this. You weren't willing to "play along", to be baptized again. The "correct" approach in your view seems to be "They ought to change their view; I shouldn't be required to change mine." That seems like a double standard. You believe it right and even noble to hold your beliefs highly, but believe they are wrong and even devisive for doing the same.

I know of no legitimate church that does not have standards for membership. If I found such a church, I would not want to be part of it. Going further, while I would require any church worth existing have standards, it would seem incumbent upon me that I would align myself with a church that agrees with the important things that I agree with rather than requiring them to align themselves with me. If I were a paedobaptist, I would not attempt to be part of a Baptist church since I know they would hold radically different views (and baptism would most likely only be one of them). I could fellowship with those people and all -- they wouldn't be my enemies -- but to me I would expect and aim to be a member of a church that agrees with me rather than expecting a church to change to agree with me.

David said...

workerinwood, you commented that it is harder to become a member of a church than it is to get into heaven, and I don't see the problem with that. God knows the heart, so He can't be fooled by a "credible profession of faith" that isn't true. We, on the other hand, can and are fooled all the time, so the more hoops you have to jump through, the more sure we can be of said person's confession. We would want to exclude those that disagree with us from membership, not just for our sake but for theirs as well. The image of a believer and non-believer getting married comes to mind. Sure, you love each other and think you can overcome the difference, but when hard decisions need to be made, the opposing views come into play and can create some very unneeded strife. I mentioned in an earlier comment, and Stan did as well, that a difference on one point of theology also shows itself in many other points. I have said it a very long time, what one believes about God and Man says a lot about how they think and live.

workerinwood said...

Stan, I appreciate your thoughtful responses. A couple clarifications. We were not at all offended that the church held to credo baptism, or were anti-paedobaptists, as I put it, because I think that is clearer. We're all credo baptists after all. We all agree that people coming to faith in Christ need to be baptized and need to profess that faith prior to being baptized.
Neither was I expecting any change in belief on the part of the church. That would be entirely unreasonable. What I did disagree with (again, not offended by) was their doctrine of membership, a point of ecclesiology, making a nonessential (important, yes I agree), but nonetheless agreeing with baptistic theology is not essential to salvation. Let me see if I can make my point clear. If every church was a Presbyterian church, every professing Christian could join as long as they had a credible profession of faith. If every church was like the one in question, many Christians would be unable to join the visible church. In this way I think this position is unworkable. John Piper's Bethlehem Baptist church also came to this conclusion in the last few years and now paedobaptists can join, though are not qualified for leadership, which is understandable. This, I think, is the correct position. The church can operate as they wish. We are on excellent terms. However I still believe their position on membership is indefensible.
To generalize my position. I believe no Christian church should have any criteria for membership beyond true faith in Christ.
I understand the credobaptist position quite well, having spent most of my life as one. I understand that credobaptists believe it is essential that one be baptized after professing faith. I also believe credobaptists understand that there are genuine believers who disagree with them and can defend their position from Scripture.
My question can be best put as this: If there was one church on an island in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from any other church, what should their membership policy be? I think it is difficult for most people to understand the situation for Christians in a sparsely populated area.
You believe it right and even noble to hold your beliefs highly, but believe they are wrong and even devisive for doing the same.
No, I do not object that they hold to their beliefs, even to their belief that paedobaptists should not be able to join. Nor do I expect them to change their mind on anything. I am simply disagreeing with their position and would like to see how they defend it. I really do not think they have ever had to. This church actually has members only baptized as infants, violating their own policy, but does not bring the issue up.

workerinwood said...

David,
In many ways I agree with you. Over the past year I have learned how true your statement is, "a difference on one point of theology also shows itself in many other points."
I believe covenant theology is the best way to understand the Bible. I found that being in a church where new covenant theology is taught brought me into disagreement in all kinds of places. I found I had to just hold my peace (difficult for me to do ;-) in order not to cause friction and problems for church leaders.
Perhaps our situation is simply one of those circumstances of life that are just not ideal. We have to make difficult choices sometimes and choose between two things, neither of which we like. We had two competing values: church membership, and the desire to have fellowship with a local church. We, unfortunately, could not have both.
As a result, we are thinking of beginning a local church plant of a solidly reformed church. So maybe it is all for the better.

workerinwood said...

Stan,
There are, for instance, absolutely no explicit examples in the Bible of infant baptism. But there are many examples of believers being baptized.

Both positions argue from silence, but not equally so. Credobaptists argue from silence because there are no cases in Scripture of the children of believers growing up in the church and then being baptized as professing believers.
All the examples of believers being baptized simply underscore a point on which we agree. None of those examples provide an argument against infants being baptized.

Paedobaptists do not argue from complete silence because I can give you an example of new covenant believers placing the sign of the covenant on their infants. Acts 21:20-26 has believing Jews, members of the New Covenant, applying the sign of the covenant (circumcision) to their infants, and the apostles thoroughly endorsing this practice.

How do you interpret this passage? Why didn't Paul and the apostles explain to these Jewish parents that they could no longer apply the sign of the covenant to their infants because the infants are unable to profess faith?

I appreciate this opportunity to shed some light on this.

Stan said...

workerinwood,

Now you're headed into a paedobaptist defense, not within the scope of this topic. That's fine. But I don't plan to go there, at least not here and now. (Nor can I begin to comprehend what you see in Acts 21 that so clearly, in your mind, demonstrates your position. That is, I don't understand what you think you see there, so I don't know how to answer your question.)

I have a question. You refer to baptism as "non-essential" by which, I understand, you clarify that it's not essential for salvation. (I know there are those who would heartily disagree, but we're not going there either.) If it is "non-essential", I'm curious why you would be unwilling to be re-baptized in order to be part of that local body. What is lost? What is the cost? I mean, to a credobaptist being rebaptized wouldn't likely be an issue even for themselves, so I'm not clear on why it is anathema to you.

workerinwood said...

David,
You said, "If it is "non-essential", I'm curious why you would be unwilling to be re-baptized in order to be part of that local body. What is lost? What is the cost?"

Getting rebaptized sounds like an easy solution, but fails to understand the situation. Getting baptized isn't simply a hurdle to jump over in order to join the church, it accompanies a certain belief and requires repudiating the legitimacy of a former baptism - not something I am willing to do. It would be dishonest.

It would be the same, if a credobaptist wanted to join a paedobaptist church and they required that they baptize their infant child. Why not go ahead and baptize the child, if that is what is required in order to join the church? What would it hurt? Of course this does not happen, but do you see the point? It is treating doctrinal beliefs as matters of indifference.

Stan said...

(That was me, not David.)

Indeed, it is absolutely true that we fail to understand the situation. To the typical credobaptist, baptism is a symbol of being identified with Christ, of the new birth, of being washed and cleansed. To the paedobaptist, it is ... something else. I've read and I've studied and I've asked, but I've never received an understandable explanation of just what it is. Of course, some argue that it is salvation itself (baptismal regeneration). It's certainly not what the credobaptists think it is. But what it is I cannot understand. I get that it's the New Testament version of circumcision, but beyond that I don't know what it accomplishes in the paedobaptist perspective.