Dever on the danger of ‘tolerated non-involvement’

Dever calls out ‘tolerated non-involvement’ in Southern Baptist churches

"Don’t baptize small children, ease into church discipline and require new member classes before adding names to the roll," says 9Marks Ministries founder Mark Dever.

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James K's picture

You won't purify the church God's way if you add extra biblical requirements upon churches.  Is 9marks helping?  Probably some.  Are they hurting?  Probably some.  As long as Mark can have his buddy Ligon helping with 9marks stuff, I just can't take this kind of stuff seriously.

What next?  Maybe Craig Blaising will get Vern Polythress to help advance premillennial theology.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

James K wrote:

You won't purify the church God's way if you add extra biblical requirements upon churches.  Is 9marks helping?  Probably some.  Are they hurting?  Probably some.  As long as Mark can have his buddy Ligon helping with 9marks stuff, I just can't take this kind of stuff seriously.

What next?  Maybe Craig Blaising will get Vern Polythress to help advance premillennial theology.

James, I actually attended this, and it was very convicting.  All the speakers made a good case for why church membership is necessary, and talked about the consequences of churches not being strong on membership.  Many of those statements in the article that came out of the conference are either implication or practical application from the scriptures preached.

Regarding Ligon being on the platform as one of the speakers, they were very clear in the panel discussions about the differences in church polity and baptism between Duncan and the others, and did not in any way gloss over it.  Both sides made it clear that they couldn't "do church" together, and Dever made it clear that he considered Duncan's practices on baptism as sin (presumably Duncan would say the same about the practice of baptism in baptist churches, though I don't remember a statement to that effect).

Nevertheless, despite the differences, all of the men were strong on church membership (the point of this conference).  Though this was not actually said, I suspect if the conference had been on baptism, Duncan would NOT have been one of the speakers, so I don't think your last point is really applicable here.

Dave Barnhart

James K's picture

dcbii, if you don't see the irony of your second paragraph and the first line of your third, then I don't know what else to say.  Was Duncan "strong" on church membership?  Is his view of paedodunking helpful or hurtful to church membership?  What about children who cannot take the Lord's supper?

Let's then review Dever's point about not baptizing children.  I missed that verse.  They can be saved, but they can't be baptized, because then we would have to recognize them as a member was his point.  Where is this found in the NT?  If it isn't, then why is it a new standard to "help" churches?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Ron Bean's picture

There is no Biblical example of baptizing children by any means, including immersion, so limiting the practice to professing adults only makes sense.

Also, in many churches being baptized does not make a person a member of a local church.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

James K's picture

Ron,

1. There is ample biblical evidence of believer baptism.  If the child gives a credible profession of faith, who are you or anyone else to get in the way of obedience to Christ?  Whose church is it exactly?

2. Again, whose church is it exactly?

Also with Dever, it is a sin for a church to require premillennialism, but it isn't a sin to require them to obey the "Christian sabbath."  Rrrriiiiiiight.

Take his church counsel with a few truckloads of salt.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Greg Long's picture

(Full disclosure: our church will baptize children who give a credible profession of faith upon the recommendationn of their parent(s) and a pastor, so I am not necessarily completely opposed to the practice.)

Until about the last 100 years or so, Baptists have historically not baptized children. In fact, as I understand it, in some parts of the world this is still the case because of persecution (they believe that someone who is making a public declaration of faith in Christ that could result in being persecuted should be an adult with full knowledge and understanding).

Have you listened to the talks that Dever has given about why his church doesn't baptize children? I didn't listen to this talk yet, but I have listened to two other presentations where Dever and the elders of CHBC explain their position on this issue, and they make some good points.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Ed Vasicek's picture

I think part of the confusion in Dever's mentality is confusing baptism with membership.  If they are the same thing, then baptism (which is mandated) becomes bundled with membership (which is at best implied in Scripture).  Anyone who is saved should be free to be baptized, period, no matter what age. Voting membership (not necessarily membership) -- should not be for children.

"The Midrash Detective"

Shaynus's picture

Ed, 

Having been a member at Dever's church, they wouldn't baptize or let young children join. The elders determine on a case by case basis if a young person has reached an age of maturity to make important decisions like the commitment of baptism and joining, so in general the age might be closer to 16. For a quicker summary of their argument see: http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/we-equip/children/baptism-of-children/

Shayne

 

 

James K's picture

Quoted from Shaynus' link:

We, the elders of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, after prayerful searching of the Scriptures and discussion conclude that, while Scripture is quite clear that believers only are to be baptized, the age at which a believer is to be baptized is not directly addressed in Scripture.

How it should have read if they were being honest:

We, the elders of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, after prayerful searching of the Scriptures and discussion conclude that, while Scripture is quite clear that believers only are to be baptized, the age at which a believer is to be baptized is not directly addressed in Scripture.

They didn't search the scripture for this bit of "wisdom" at all.  The scripture demands baptism of believers.  Further, to deny certain believers full rights as others creates a schism not warranted by Scripture.

If you think the problems without 9Marks are bad, just wait till you see their solutions.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

James K's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

I think part of the confusion in Dever's mentality is confusing baptism with membership.  If they are the same thing, then baptism (which is mandated) becomes bundled with membership (which is at best implied in Scripture).  Anyone who is saved should be free to be baptized, period, no matter what age. Voting membership (not necessarily membership) -- should not be for children.

Ah, the sacred cow to baptists, voting.  That is what this is about.  You don't want children voting.  Here is a radical solution to this nonsense: stop voting altogether (since it isn't in scripture), and baptize believers.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Greg Long's picture

James K wrote:

Quoted from Shaynus' link:

We, the elders of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, after prayerful searching of the Scriptures and discussion conclude that, while Scripture is quite clear that believers only are to be baptized, the age at which a believer is to be baptized is not directly addressed in Scripture.

How it should have read if they were being honest:

We, the elders of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, after prayerful searching of the Scriptures and discussion conclude that, while Scripture is quite clear that believers only are to be baptized, the age at which a believer is to be baptized is not directly addressed in Scripture.

They didn't search the scripture for this bit of "wisdom" at all.  The scripture demands baptism of believers.  Further, to deny certain believers full rights as others creates a schism not warranted by Scripture.

If you think the problems without 9Marks are bad, just wait till you see their solutions.

So somehow James knows the thoughts and motives of the elders of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, to the point that he is sure they are being dishonest. Yes, that's right, James K is accusing a body of elders of lying.

James, I will agree you that "the Scripture demands baptism of believers." In fact, THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT. If you had listened to/read their explanations, you would know this is the whole point. There are two dangers for elders to avoid: 1) Not baptizing true believers who want to be baptized. 2) Baptizing unbelievers who want to be baptized. You seem to think that only the first is a possible problem, but as someone who has been a pastor of both teens and children/families, I can tell you without a doubt that the second is an issue as well. Haven't we all heard countless testimonies like this: "I prayed a prayer when I was a child and got baptized, but I didn't really understand what I was saying (or I just did it because my parents wanted me to), so now as a teenager/adult I know I truly trusted Christ so I want to be baptized as a believer." Why does this happen so often?

In my previous ministry we instituted a program for fathers to mentor their children who wanted to be baptized, leading them in a Bible study of the Gospel, assurance of salvation/evidences of regeneration, and the meaning of baptism. We did not set a hard age, but we told the fathers is was more appropriate for JH/SH kids, and perhaps upper elementary kids. (We would make exceptions for the unusual child who had a crystal clear salvation testimony, clearly understood the meaning of baptism, and had the recommendation of their parents.)

The argument of the CHBC elders is NOT that children can't believe and be saved (nor is that my argument, as I am confident I was regeneration at age 5), and it is also NOT that we should be ambivalent about baptizing believers. Their argument is that it might be better to wait to see if their profession of faith is indeed genuine, because kids often make "decisions" that they don't fully understand. If anyone would doubt that to be the case, think about when you were asked as a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" How many of us are actually doing what we "decided" to do as a child? A few, perhaps. And thankfully salvation is different because the Holy Spirit can regenerate a child and give them spiritual understanding.

So to summarize, the elders of CHBC take very seriously their responsibility to baptize believers. They take very seriously their responsibility to BAPTIZE, and they take very seriously their responsibility to baptize BELIEVERS.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

James K's picture

Greg, their conclusion was not based on prayerful searching of the scriptures.  The position advocated is not based on the scriptures.  While I don't think Dever has the desire to deceive others, his choices serve that purpose though.  I would rather chalk that up to his being deceived the same way he believes Ligon Duncan is in "sin" and deception on this matter.

Your defense is admirable and might appear to be wisdom except that nothing is based in scripture.  Simon the sorceror was an adult who "believed" and was baptized in the presence of the apostles.  After the fact, Peter rebuked him and said he was still bound up in sin.

The whole waiting period wasn't enforced on pentecost either when you had a mob "believe" and were baptized.  How did they know that some of those professions weren't just going along with the crowd?

I have no doubt that you want what is best.  I strongly disagree with the rationale though.

Blessings to you brother.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Andrew K's picture

James K wrote:

Greg, their conclusion was not based on prayerful searching of the scriptures.  The position advocated is not based on the scriptures.  While I don't think Dever has the desire to deceive others, his choices serve that purpose though.  I would rather chalk that up to his being deceived the same way he believes Ligon Duncan is in "sin" and deception on this matter.

Your defense is admirable and might appear to be wisdom except that nothing is based in scripture.  Simon the sorceror was an adult who "believed" and was baptized in the presence of the apostles.  After the fact, Peter rebuked him and said he was still bound up in sin.

The whole waiting period wasn't enforced on pentecost either when you had a mob "believe" and were baptized.  How did they know that some of those professions weren't just going along with the crowd?

I have no doubt that you want what is best.  I strongly disagree with the rationale though.

Blessings to you brother.

While James K's points are, as usual, not very irenic in tone, they are quite strong here.

The Scriptural support does seem to fall on the "less caution" side.

Greg Long's picture

1) James, how do you know their decision wasn't reached after prayerful searching of the Scriptures? Were you in on the discussions?

2) I would be glad to conceded the point to you, James and Andrew, that Scripture is obviously on your side, if you can show me one clear example in the New Testament of a child getting baptized.

3) I'm just curious how things work at your churches. I assume from what you've said on this post that your churches baptize professing believers IMMEDIATELY upon profession of faith, just like in the New Testament, right? Because a delay of any kind would be unscriptural.

James, everything I said is based on Scripture. Scripture commands us to baptize, and it commands us to baptize believers. (I really don't need to go through all the NT evidence for that statement, do I?) To state it one more time as clearly as I can, we don't want to not baptize believers, but neither do we want to baptize those who are not believers. Sometimes in this American culture where there is confusion about what it means to be a Christian and what baptism means, it is good to give instruction and to understand a person's level of understanding of the Gospel and of baptism. Many times, that will not take long at all. With children, I think it is wise to use caution.

By the way, it appears that the early church thought along the same lines, as they had a time of instructing new converts before baptism. Someone with a greater knowledge of church history can jump in here on that. And once again, Baptists have historically not baptized children generally speaking up until about the last 100-150 years.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jay's picture

I think James' real issue here is expressed here:

Ah, the sacred cow to baptists, voting.  That is what this is about.  You don't want children voting.  Here is a radical solution to this nonsense: stop voting altogether (since it isn't in scripture), and baptize believers.

James usually gets on SharperIron to discuss church polity and the idea that congregations hold elders accountable, not the baptism thing.  That, at least, seems to me like the hot button issue for him.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

James K's picture

Greg,

1) presbyterians also would claim that they prayerfully search the scriptures for their position on baptism.  Would that validate their position to you?  I hope not.  Claiming prayerful search isn't the same thing as allowing the scripture to inform one's view.

2) I have been consistently arguing for believer baptism.  The best any church can do is to go off a credible profession of faith.  If a child can produce that, then heaping extra requirements is not based on biblical evidence.  I gave you two examples of where baptism took place without a time to observe the candidate.  In the case of Simon, they baptized an unbeliever (unknowingly).  If the church in Acts would baptize shortly after the profession, what makes you think your modern day wisdom is better than the apostolic practice?

3) Our church does practice the position of baptizing shortly after conversion.  We have a bit of an issue with our water and our baptistry, so we have to have time to fill it.

Your position is based on scripture in that you are correctly arguing for believer baptism.  However, the added requirements and refusal to baptize children is not based in scripture.  That is more reaction driven rather than theologically driven.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

James K's picture

Jay wrote:

I think James' real issue here is expressed here:

Ah, the sacred cow to baptists, voting.  That is what this is about.  You don't want children voting.  Here is a radical solution to this nonsense: stop voting altogether (since it isn't in scripture), and baptize believers.

James usually gets on SharperIron to discuss church polity and the idea that congregations hold elders accountable, not the baptism thing.  That, at least, seems to me like the hot button issue for him.

Actually Jay, my point is the baptism position.  It is my belief that Dever and those who would agree with him see the voting issue as a contributing factor to delay the baptism.  The irony of churches who claim that scripture is to be upheld as the authority preventing believers from being baptized so that they won't mess up a man made practice.  It is like one of those "when you see it..." pictures.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Perhaps the elders of CHBC studied the Scriptures carefully enough to learn that there is no account of any child being baptized.  Perhaps they concluded that this omission is significant.  They may have decided that if God wanted us to baptize children, He would have given us a clear precept, or at least one clear example out of the thousands of recorded baptisms in the New Testament.  Some may study the Biblical evidence, and draw a different conclusion, but to insist that the CHBC elders lied when they said they studied the Scriptures is more than uncharitable.  It is slanderous.

G. N. Barkman

dgszweda's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Perhaps the elders of CHBC studied the Scriptures carefully enough to learn that there is no account of any child being baptized.  Perhaps they concluded that this omission is significant.  They may have decided that if God wanted us to baptize children, He would have given us a clear precept, or at least one clear example out of the thousands of recorded baptisms in the New Testament.  Some may study the Biblical evidence, and draw a different conclusion, but to insist that the CHBC elders lied when they said they studied the Scriptures is more than uncharitable.  It is slanderous.

 

I would agree with this.  I cannot speak to Dever's church specifically, but my church has a similar practice.  It is ultimately rooted in the fact that baptism (as well as salvation) should be taken seriously.  In addition, the elder's take the shepherding of the flock very seriously.  We have all seen the one side of this equation, where the buses bring in children for vacation bible school, pressure the kids to pray and then start baptising them, while at the same time tweeting about the thousands that are getting baptized.  They feel that a child is pliable, may not have been saved and is still under the authority of the parents and not the church.  There is no clear teaching is Scripture that outlines that a young child has to be baptized right away (there is also not any teaching saying they shouldn't), and that they need to be careful.  That one of the marks of a believer is a changed life, and that cannot be seen in a 5 year old most of the time.  Our church does not set an age specifically, but I doubt they would baptize anyone under the age of 10.  They state that evidence must be shown as to the individual being saved (just as it is done for an adult).  And when that evidence is displayed, that child should be baptized.

I do not find this approach unscriptural, although it is very different from a typical fundamentalist church.  I believe that the Bible gives the church latitude on these difficult areas.  We would all say that we wouldn't baptize a three year old because they prayed in Sunday School.  But where would we draw the line.  I think Dever's church and others that follow this line of thought, follow it with laying a biblically based framework instead of just saying 5 years of age and older.

For me, I had one son that when he was saved at 5, straight out showed signs of fruit.  It was clear as day and continues to be clear as day.  My other two children it has not been as crystal clear.  Because I struggle with it and take it seriously, I am glad that my church takes it seriously as well.

DavidO's picture

What about the people who were baptized along with their households?  We are to believe that this was only servants, spouses and older children?  It must not include 10 year old kids?

And I must "bingo" this snippet from James K:

The best any church can do is to go off a credible profession of faith. If a child can produce that, then heaping extra requirements is not based on biblical evidence. I gave you two examples of where baptism took place without a time to observe the candidate. In the case of Simon, they baptized an unbeliever (unknowingly). If the church in Acts would baptize shortly after the profession, what makes you think your modern day wisdom is better than the apostolic practice?,

Furthermore, I have to say to Jay, who sees James using this as an excuse to preach non-congregational polity, that the keep them from voting thing (not to mention prevent persecution thing--does Fox's book detail only adult martyrs?) is germane to the basis of why we would or not baptize children, and so fair game for discussion.  Or so it seems to me.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I'm dealing with this very issue in my church. An 11-yr old girl recently came to faith at church a few weeks back. She has been attending Sunday School and asking questions for months now. We have patiently been answering them and putting absolutely no pressure on her beyond a general "if anyone wants to talk about salvation after class, come see Mrs. Starla!"

A few weeks ago, the 11-yr old girl did just that. I explained the Gospel to her, she believed it and said she wanted Jesus to save her. Wonderful. Should I wait to baptize the girl until she shows fruit? I have decided not to wait. I'm going to be meeting with her parents, and the baptism will (Lord willing) be within a week or two. Baptism is a public testimony of what God has done in her life. I truly believe she understands the Gospel, and she wants to be baptized to show the church that she is saved. I don't want to hinder her, and I don't see Scriptural warrant that says I ought to.

  • Incidentally, she only came and asked about salvation after she saw me baptize her grandfather. That picture and public testimony of salvation (dead to sins, alive to Christ - being born again) in baptism is what the Holy Spirit used to finally convict her heart. 

Her sisters (both aged 7) now want to be saved and baptized. I'm taking a much more careful approach with them. I've given them simple passages to study and questions to answer, and we talk for about 15 mins after each Sunday morning about what salvation is and what Jesus did for them. I am maybe being too slow, but I don't want these sisters just trying to copycat the other girl. In a week or so, I'll move forward and see if they want to be saved. If they do, I don't think I'll wait for baptism them either. I think you need to take it case by case - the issue is whether they understand. 

James - people can't vote at our church until they're 18, so children voting isn't an issue with us! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dgszweda's picture

DavidO wrote:

What about the people who were baptized along with their households?  We are to believe that this was only servants, spouses and older children?  It must not include 10 year old kids?

The Bible doesn't say.  What we do know is that in ancient times, children (just as they are viewed today), were viewed differently than adult members of the family.  If the Bible is not dogmatic, why do we need to be.  In addition, you mention we baptize once we get a credible profession of faith.  Can you define what credible is?  If an adult came to us who was living with his girlfriend and got saved in service, but was unwilling to move out from being under the roof of his girlfriend we would question whether he was saved and whether we should baptize him.  How can we expect the same level of credibility from a 5 year old?  What says a 5 year old was saved?  The prayer?  the fact that they feel good?  The fact that they want to attend church because of their buddies and they like their teacher Mrs.  Smith because she lets them color cool pictures during SS?

Kevin Miller's picture

dgszweda wrote:

 What says a 5 year old was saved?  The prayer?  the fact that they feel good?  The fact that they want to attend church because of their buddies and they like their teacher Mrs.  Smith because she lets them color cool pictures during SS?

Couldn't the same questions be asked of an adult, too? What says an adult is saved? Is it because they are attending church because they like the music or the preaching style of the pastor? Is it because they move out of their living arrangement because they feel they HAVE TO in order to prove their sincerity?

DavidO's picture

Thanks Kevin, agreed.

I think we know credible when we hear it, and, if we're going to err, we ought to do so on the side of accepting marginally credible professions.  It seems a bigger error to forbid a genuine believer baptism than to baptize a non believer in "good faith" error.

Greg Long's picture

James K wrote:

Greg,

1) presbyterians also would claim that they prayerfully search the scriptures for their position on baptism.  Would that validate their position to you?  I hope not.  Claiming prayerful search isn't the same thing as allowing the scripture to inform one's view.

No, of course not. But I would not doubt the fact that they prayerfully searched the Scriptures. Just because you, James K, disagree with someone, does not mean that they didn't prayerfully search the Scriptures. You might be right and they wrong, or you might be wrong and they right. Don't you think that two Christians, or two groups of Christians, can prayerfully search the Scriptures and come to different conclusions? But when a body of elders says they have searched the Scriptures and come to a conclusion (about something that we even have disagreement on among Christians here on Sharper Iron) and you say "No, you haven't" just because you disagree with them is arrogant.

James K wrote:
2) I have been consistently arguing for believer baptism.  The best any church can do is to go off a credible profession of faith.  If a child can produce that, then heaping extra requirements is not based on biblical evidence.  I gave you two examples of where baptism took place without a time to observe the candidate.  In the case of Simon, they baptized an unbeliever (unknowingly).  If the church in Acts would baptize shortly after the profession, what makes you think your modern day wisdom is better than the apostolic practice?
"Shortly after"? I thought it was immediately with no delay?

James K wrote:
3) Our church does practice the position of baptizing shortly after conversion.  We have a bit of an issue with our water and our baptistry, so we have to have time to fill it.
Why, you can't find a body of water available to baptize immediately? (Please excuse the snark.)

James K wrote:
Your position is based on scripture in that you are correctly arguing for believer baptism.  However, the added requirements and refusal to baptize children is not based in scripture.  That is more reaction driven rather than theologically driven.
No, it is absolutely not "reaction driven" and absolutely is "theologically driven." To be reaction driven would be to cave in to the pressure of well-meaning parents who want you to baptize their children just because they want you to baptize them, and because the child can say something like "I asked Jesus into my heart." To be theologically driven is to make more of an attempt to understand what the child really believes and understands, and if that is unclear, to further teach them. Why? Because we neither delay baptism for those who have given a credible profession of faith and articulated a clear understanding of biblical baptism, nor do we hastily baptize those that we are unsure about their understanding.

I can assure you that my arguments are biblically and theologically based. You may not agree with me, and I might even be wrong, but to simply dismiss them as not being biblically or theologically based because you disagree with them does nothing to advance the conversation.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Greg Long's picture

DavidO wrote:

Thanks Kevin, agreed.

I think we know credible when we hear it, and, if we're going to err, we ought to do so on the side of accepting marginally credible professions.  It seems a bigger error to forbid a genuine believer baptism than to baptize a non believer in "good faith" error.

From my understanding of church history, Baptists from history would not necessarily agree with you. That doesn't make you automatically wrong, but you need to understand that this idea of exercising care about who is baptized is not a new one.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Greg Long's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

 What says a 5 year old was saved?  The prayer?  the fact that they feel good?  The fact that they want to attend church because of their buddies and they like their teacher Mrs.  Smith because she lets them color cool pictures during SS?

 

Couldn't the same questions be asked of an adult, too? What says an adult is saved? Is it because they are attending church because they like the music or the preaching style of the pastor? Is it because they move out of their living arrangement because they feel they HAVE TO in order to prove their sincerity?

 

Kevin, wouldn't you agree that there are significant differences between the ability of an adult to understand and articulate their confession of faith and that of a child? Multiple Scripture passages confirm this.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

DavidO's picture

you need to understand that this idea of exercising care about who is baptized is not a new one.

I understand.  Just newer than the original idea.  Smile

 

But, in seriousness, I would say requiring a credible profession is exercising care.

 

James K's picture

TylerR wrote:

I'm dealing with this very issue in my church. An 11-yr old girl recently came to faith at church a few weeks back. She has been attending Sunday School and asking questions for months now. We have patiently been answering them and putting absolutely no pressure on her beyond a general "if anyone wants to talk about salvation after class, come see Mrs. Starla!"

A few weeks ago, the 11-yr old girl did just that. I explained the Gospel to her, she believed it and said she wanted Jesus to save her. Wonderful. Should I wait to baptize the girl until she shows fruit? I have decided not to wait. I'm going to be meeting with her parents, and the baptism will (Lord willing) be within a week or two. Baptism is a public testimony of what God has done in her life. I truly believe she understands the Gospel, and she wants to be baptized to show the church that she is saved. I don't want to hinder her, and I don't see Scriptural warrant that says I ought to.

  • Incidentally, she only came and asked about salvation after she saw me baptize her grandfather. That picture and public testimony of salvation (dead to sins, alive to Christ - being born again) in baptism is what the Holy Spirit used to finally convict her heart. 

Her sisters (both aged 7) now want to be saved and baptized. I'm taking a much more careful approach with them. I've given them simple passages to study and questions to answer, and we talk for about 15 mins after each Sunday morning about what salvation is and what Jesus did for them. I am maybe being too slow, but I don't want these sisters just trying to copycat the other girl. In a week or so, I'll move forward and see if they want to be saved. If they do, I don't think I'll wait for baptism them either. I think you need to take it case by case - the issue is whether they understand. 

James - people can't vote at our church until they're 18, so children voting isn't an issue with us! 

Thank you Tyler.  You have rejected the artificial and favored substance.  Blessings to you brother.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

dgszweda's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

 What says a 5 year old was saved?  The prayer?  the fact that they feel good?  The fact that they want to attend church because of their buddies and they like their teacher Mrs.  Smith because she lets them color cool pictures during SS?

 

Couldn't the same questions be asked of an adult, too? What says an adult is saved? Is it because they are attending church because they like the music or the preaching style of the pastor? Is it because they move out of their living arrangement because they feel they HAVE TO in order to prove their sincerity?

 

I think we need to be careful.  And the body of believers at Capitol Hill has chosen this route.  A child's comprehension and commitment may not be capable of handling a conversion (see Luke 14:26 and others).  Every father that I have come into contact with is very careful with the salvation of their children.  I even resisted my children's call to get saved until they really understood what they were doing.  A confession at 3 years of age, we can all agree is not a smart route to take to ensure that your child has been saved.  What that age level is, should be up to each parent.  A child is under the care, responsibility and authority of their parent.  An adult who confesses must stand up under their own weight and are under the authority of the church. 

They don't have to prove their sincerity, but if you are baptizing people only on the fact that they said they got saved, with absolutely no evidence of a conversion, I think that is a risky approach.  It is hard to view this only in Scripture, because we are looking at this from the other side of the lens.  We know the family was baptized because they were saved, and we know they were saved because the Holy Scriptures breathed out by the Holy Spirit declared it.  We have no further insight into it nor do we really know the timeframe between conversion and baptism in most cases.  Was it seconds, minutes, hours, days?  We just don't have clarity on it.  Even the 3,000 that were saved, if each was baptized in as little as a minute, it would still take almost 3 (24 hour days) to complete it, and if they needed to sleep it would take about a week non stop to baptize.  So lets not assume that 3,000 people just walked down to river (which standing next to each other would stretch 1 mile) and they were all saved within a few minutes of their conversion.

Also, the stance that Capitol Hill is taking, historically is not that different than the historical church has taken.  We could say that baptizing children at 5 is more of a recent phenomonen than a common church practice. 

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