Heidelminicast Q&A: What To Do With The Baptists?

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  1. This subject matter deals with the question that I sent in. Perhaps you can address it here. Our fellowship committee presented a series to our council dealing with “loving your church“. This series is produced by a Baptist denomination in the UK. Our council/consistory decided to show this first video at a congregational meeting that we had. The video was an introduction to the rest of the video, had nothing specifically Baptist in it, but did touch on things that were uncomfortable in the reformed way of thinking i.e. going to McDonald’s to get food for Sunday service, etc. My main concern is that we have recently lost several families to a local Baptist church, a very quickly growing, busy church with a dynamic preacher. In my thinking, it is perhaps unwise for consistory to present this as a viable teaching tool to the congregation. Am I overthinking this?

    • Hi JP,

      I have your question but the Heidelcast stack is quite large.

      That the video was produced by Baptists is not the greatest concern. That it advocates what some would regard as breaking the 4th commandment, is more problematic. Will showing a video or using materials produced by Baptists lead to people becoming Baptists? Not necessarily. A more profound question is how well and deeply is the leadership of the congregation teaching the congregation the Reformed faith? Why do people leave so easily for a congregation that rejects the validity of their baptism and understands the history of redemption so differently? Why are they attracted to personalities rather than doctrine? Those are more important questions.

      • Thank you. I believe a stronger stance has to be taken. Our confessions deal very strongly with the anabaptist issue, and as you said in your audio, the concerns were somewhat different, but covenantal baptism is at the core of Reformed faith. I am pursuing this further.

  2. Hey Dr. Clark,

    At the end of this episode, you state that, “I was baptised as an infant, and … I don’t think don’t think the confessional Baptists can recognize or ordinarily do recognize that infant baptism.”

    Of course, I can acknowledge that confessional Baptists do not ordinarily recognize infant baptisms. However, I do think that Baptists and Baptist congregations that subscribe to the 1689 London Baptist Confession certainly *can* recognize infant baptisms.

    I recently was directed to the appendix of the 1689 LBCF where we find the following:

    “We are not insenible that as to the order of Gods house, and entire communion therein there are some things wherein we (as well as others) are not at a full accord among our selves, as for instance; the known principle, and state of the consciences of diverse of us, that have agreed in this Confession is such; that we cannot hold Church-communion, with any other then Baptized-believers, and Churches constituted of such; yet some others of us have a greater liberty and freedom in our spirits that way; and therefore we have purposely omitted the mention of things of that nature, that we might concurre, in giving this evidence of our agreement, both among our selves, and with other good Christians, in those important articles of the Christian Religion…”

    This suggests that some at the time thought communing of the unbaptized as being allowable. Of course, on its surface, this seems to hurt my case since it seems to imply that those baptized as infants were viewed as unbaptized. However, the point here is that there was a broadness on the part of the framers of the 1689 that allowed for the inclusion of those baptized as infants. Further, surely a congregation that recognizes pedobaptism as legitimate, though irregular would have much more warrant for the inclusion of pedobaptists in their congregation. It seems to be that the 1689 was in fact intended to allow open membership/open communion Baptists to subscribe.

    Jordan Stefaniac in his episode of the London Lyceum podcast, Baptists, Baptism, and Bunyan’s Wall of Division, specifically examines the section on Baptist in the 1689 and suggests that it places baptismal mode (immersion) and timing (pedo/credo) in a category of irregular, but does not necessarily teach that such baptisms are actually invalid (i.e. not baptisms).

    All that to say, though open membership Baptists are indeed rare, both among the confessional and more broadly, I do think that the 1689 LBCF is written in such a way that an open membership Baptist could subscribe without qualm.

    • Josiah,

      Bunyan was, as far as I know, an outlier. There are some who take is view but he didn’t represent most Baptists then and he doesn’t now.

      I appreciate the conciliatory language of the appendix. Others have point me to this section so I am aware of it but I don’t think it will do the work that people want to do.

      It’s not as if, for the 1689 or other Baptist confessions, believer’s baptism only is just one option among many. It’s not a mere preference.

      They’re saying, in the appendix, that they recognize that they’re not the only church in the world—which I appreciate and which keeps the 1689ers from being a cult—but they aren’t saying that infant baptism is no big deal and that they are perfectly happy to accept infant baptisms as valid.

      • There can be no doubt that this issue is, and will remain, one on which there is disagreement. And I certainly acknowledge that the majority report is a rejection of pedobaptism as baptism. But I do think that the appendix to the 1689 opens the door for a view much like the one you hold of Baptist Churches.

        You have said several times that you view Baptist Churches not as non-churches, but as irregular Churches. I think the appendix to the 1689 opens the door for a the confessional Baptist to view infant baptisms not as non-baptisms, but as irregular baptisms.

        Of course, to some extent this is all theoretical, especially because it is a small minority view. I only want to insist that a confessional Baptist/Baptist Church *could* accept those baptized as infants for membership and the supper. I would not make the argument that many (or any) will. I can only militate against the idea that the 1689 LBCF *requires* insistence that pedobaptism is not baptism. I would like to see this view spread and narrow the gap between these two confessional communities.

        • I can’t see this happening. There has been attempts at reconciliation with some Baptists adopting the term reformed, while they ignore one of the main aspects of Calvinist doctrine.
          The desire to amalgamate different church belief systems could result in a very watered down church.


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