Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Recently I blogged on infant baptism, making the point that paedobaptism (infant baptism) is unbiblical, and that most paedobaptists (infant baptists) are inconsistent by not giving the Lord's Supper to their baptized children.
But, there is a growing number of paedobaptists who are beginning to become more "epistemologically self-conscious." They are beginning to see that the Scriptures do indeed teach that all who have been baptized have a right to the Lord's Supper, and that those paedobaptists who are merely credo-communionists (believers only Lord's Supper) are very hard-pressed to defend their notion. So what of these "more consistent" paedobaptists: the paedocommunionists?
First, I want to tip my hat to those paedobaptists who are trying to be more consistent. About ten years ago, the Reformed Baptist view was rare and almost unheard of in Reformed circles, with many paedobaptists charging that one cannot truly be Reformed and yet a Baptist. However, over the past decade this has changed, probably because of dialogue. Now it seems that most Reformed paedobaptists recognize Reformed Baptists as fellow Reformed brethren, and heirs of the great legacy of the Reformation. Sacramentology (the study of the sacraments or ordinances) was not given the proper attention that it should have been given in the Reformation, and finally the Reformed churches are beginning to take a hard look at their practices, and the proper subjects of baptism and the Lord's Table. This is a good thing.
However, I believe also that if one has an incorrect starting point, striving toward consistency will only lead to absurdity. Our starting point must be the Word of God. As Van Til himself noted, the only alternative is either man's thoughts or God's thoughts; man's tyrannical law, or the law of God, the law which brings perfect freedom (James 1:25). If we do not start with the Word of God, then we will end up lost. A good illustration of this is the movie "Dumb and Dumber." In the movie, Lloyd wasn't paying attention where he was driving, because he was distracted by the loud snoring of Harry (all the while trying to plug snoring Harry's nose). He thought he was driving toward Colorado, but all the while he was going the opposite direction, because since he wasn't paying attention, he missed the sign to Colorado. He continued for six hours driving in the opposite direction. When Harry wakes up, they make the following observation, looking out into the flat plains: "I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a lot rockier than this." The next thing we know Harry is extremely upset with Lloyd, because now their money planning is destroyed. They no longer have enough money to eat, sleep, arrive at their destination, or even go back where they came from. Lloyd mentions that since they are now in a hole, they will just have to dig themselves out.
The above rather comical story is kind of like those who are embracing paedocommunion. Dr. James Renihan mentioned that we are so busy trying to answer the charges of the paedobaptists, when all we have to do is just look and see what the Bible says about baptism itself. Romans 6 assumes that all who have been baptized are dying to sin. 1 Corinthians 12 assumes that all who have been baptized have been given the Holy Spirit. Galatians 3 assumes that all who have been baptized have been clothed with Christ. But instead of reading the sign, our paedobaptist brothers and sisters were distracted by looking for their argument from the unity of the covenant of grace. When we Baptists came along and started giving them tough arguments, pointing out the inconsistency of not giving the Lord's Supper to their baptized children, many of them figured they were in a hole, and had to dig themselves out. (Even paedobaptist Keith Mathison admits that the paedobaptists who are not paedocommunionists have simply not been able to answer the charges of the paedocommunionists.) Those who realized they were in a hole tried to dig themselves out by embracing paedocommunion.
But I would also liken those who have embraced paedocommunion, trying to dig themselves out of the hole, to what Lloyd did to try to dig himself out of the hole. Lloyd ending up trading the van for a little motor-scooter. Sure, they made it to their destination, but when they made it there, they had no more money, and no shelter, and no food. They ended up having to warm their hands at night to keep warm, and Harry had had enough of Lloyd.
The church is the called out ones, the "ekklesia." She is called out of sin to worship God. The paedocommunionists treat their infants as though they are regenerated (although some would differ on this point). With paedocommunion, you now have a church which is no longer properly disciplined, and no longer made up of saints, but made up of both professing believers and unbelievers. Brothers and sisters, this should not be. This should concern us greatly.
But all the while, Harry and Lloyd had a briefcase full of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They didn't know money was inside the briefcase, because they weren't able to open it. It was locked really well. But when it opens after a huge fight between the two of them, they immediately use the money to find shelter and food. They then find the best lodging they could find (meant for those who are rich mainly).
Paedobaptists, and paedocommunionists, need to open up that briefcase full of riches. They approach the Scriptures with a lock-hold on the Scriptures, approaching everything looking for the unity of the covenant of grace. They are not able to unlock them because of this, just like Harry and Lloyd were not able to unlock the briefcase. I believe paedobaptists and paedocommunionists need to do exegesis of texts, which their system does not have a lot of. I believe that if they do, then they will be led to embrace professor's only baptism, and confessor's only Lord's Supper. They will see the beauty of the church being made up of those who are walking in the faith, and the necessity to guard the purity of the church in an even deeper sense. Some would say that I may sound very simplistic. They may say that I need to consider the fact that many, godly men have embraced paedobaptism.
I recognize the above. But I believe that these many, godly men are wrong. I do believe that the sacraments belonging to only those who profess faith is something which the Scriptures are clear on. I think they are clear in how they positively define the sacraments, as well as when we consider the outcome and logical conclusion of infant baptism. I stand by the following statement: Infant baptism leads to household communion.
It will be interesting to see in the future how paedobaptists will become more epistemologically self-conscious. If the paedocommunionists were totally consistent, then they would give communion to any in the household. In fact, I already know of one paedocommunionist church which has members by households, whatever that means. It will indeed be interesting to see what happens.
To my paedobaptist and paedocommunionist brothers and sisters: I did not intend the above to sound offensive. I hope that you had a good laugh at the movie illustration I gave (especially those who have seen the movie). I also hope we can have a good laugh together.
May the Lord continue to lead us all toward that unity of the faith in history (Ephesians 4:11-16). Soli Deo Gloria!
Friday, March 04, 2005
Hello again everyone! My wife and I are looking forward to visiting California for spring break. We are especially looking forward to partaking of the Lord's Supper at our church in California (www.grcbible.org). We haven't enjoyed the Lord's Table for quite a while now. We saw on my last post how the Lord's Supper signifies union with Christ and with each other as the Body of Christ.
For that reason, I have a hard time understanding those churches that practice the Lord's Supper once a year, or once a quarter, or once every two months, or once a month, or even once every other week.
Let me ask a question. How do a husband and a wife demonstrate their unity with one another? That is to say, how do a husband and a wife demonstrate their union with each other? By having union with one another. How often should a husband and wife have union with one another in the physical act? Once a year? Once a quarter? Once every two months? Once a month? What about every other week?
I hope you thought to yourself that, if a married couple have union with one another physically at any of the frequencies mentioned above, that their marriage will suffer. Likewise, if the local church partakes of the Lord's Supper, which represents our union with Christ, in which we feed on Him spiritually by faith, then the local church will likewise suffer. I want to have union with my wife physically at least once a week. I want to feed on Christ's body and blood and seek union with Him at least once a week. In fact, the early church partook of the Supper every time that they met corporately.
May the Lord give us a biblical understanding of His Supper.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Greetings once again. I was thinking about the (unbiblical) idea that many Reformed churches have of baptizing infants. The interesting thing is, many of those churches which baptize infants do not give their children the Lord's Supper. This is biblically inconsistent.
1 Corinthians 11 speaks of the Lord's Supper, and considers that all who are a member of the Lord's church are therefore part of His Body. The early church, as well as the biblical notion, of the Lord's Supper considered that all who are in union with Christ (the church) have a right to partake of His body and blood. This is why paedobaptists (infant baptists) who give their children the sacrament of baptism, yet withhold from them the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, are inconsistent. If we ask paedobaptists if their children are members of the church, they will say yes (most all of them--yet much paedobaptist literature is inconsistent on this point as well). However, they fail to realize the deep significance of the Lord's Table. The Lord's Supper is the way the church shows the world that they belong to Christ and are in union with Him, the same way that when I display my wedding ring on my finger, it demonstrates that I proclaim to the world that I belong to my wife.
So we see that the Lord's Table signifies both union with each other, as well as union with Christ Himself. This is why the early church partook of the Lord's Supper every time they met for corporate worship. They considered it an essential part of the worship life of the church. If paedobaptists were consistent on this point, they would apply the Lord's Table to their children as well. To give baptism to a church member, yet withhold the Lord's Supper, is the same as saying that they are not members of the church.
But some infant baptists will say, "They are noncommunicant members of the church." But again, they fail to realize that to be a member of the church is to be in communion with one another. In other words, to say "noncommunicant member" is the same as saying "they are members, and they are not members." Such an idea is foreign to the New Testament economy of grace, as well as the nature of the church.
The church is made up of those who are walking in faith. It is those who have been called out of the Egypt of sin to come and worship God in the pilgrimage of this life, to walk in faith and repentance before Him. Every member of the church is entitled to the full privileges of the church: to enjoy all of her sacraments, fellowship, and, most importantly, the preaching of the Word. To deny a member the important means of grace such as the Lord's Supper is to do damage to one's soul.
More on this soon . . .