Monday, March 12, 2007

DOGMATICALLY AGAINST DOGMATISM

I need to dogmatically assert the following:

We need to be careful about being dogmatic on issues of the faith which are in the more debated camp. That is not to say that we should not debate and dialogue in love; it is merely to say that we need to avoid dogmatism.

Consider an issue which I was very dogmatic about in the past. In the past, I have been very dogmatic about the doctrine of credobaptism. I would say that it is "clear" that the Bible is against infant baptism. Likewise, I have read many paedobaptist brethren assert that the Bible "clearly" teaches covenantal infant baptism.

Yet, godly men on both sides of the camp, throughout church history, have been many.

I could name many godly Reformed Baptists, both contemporary and past; and I could name many godly Reformed paedobaptists, both contemporary and past. This, at least prima facie, should warn us against the danger of being dogmatic on the issue of the proper subjects of baptism.

Many of my Baptist brethren find it hard to believe how anyone could believe in infant baptism, but I would dare say that that is because, perhaps, they are unfamiliar with the case for Reformed paedobaptism. Again, I am not saying I agree with paedobaptism--I am just saying that we need to be careful when it comes to dogmatism against it.

Paedobaptists do not believe infant baptism for sentimental reasons. They believe it because they think the Bible teaches it.

Baptists do not reject infant baptism for sentimental reasons. They believe in professors' baptism alone because they think the Bible teaches it.

MY BAPTISM "TESTIMONY"

I was raised dispensational and Southern Baptist. By God's grace, I came to the Reformed faith in 1996. I was Presbyterian, and paedobaptistic, for two years at the time. In 1999, by God's grace, I became a Reformed Baptist, after having met a Reformed Baptist brother and having studied the issue. I grew into a dogmatism when it came to Reformed credobaptism, and I even came to the point where I dared to say that paedobaptism had no good arguments, no, not one.

Yet, years ago I had seen some problems with the Reformed Baptist view. I do not wish to go into them here and now--perhaps in a later post. But I still remain a Baptist. I am not convinced of paedobaptism at this point. May the Lord lead me into all truth if I am wrong. I remain open to change here, I hope, by God's grace. And I continue to study. May God forgive me if I am wrong.

I am not trying to open up another baptism debate with this post; I am merely trying to warn against dogmatism in secondary issues. For some reason, God has seen fit in His providence, in the history of His Church, to have this issue unresolved at present. I have to respectfully disagree now with the Reformers when they said that one of the three marks of a true church is the proper administration of the sacraments. If it were, then would not our Lord have made that issue clear in His Word? Yet the debate remains unresolved.

As a postmillennialist (and I could be wrong there too!), I believe the issue will be resolved before our Lord returns. Until then, may the Lord Jesus' prayer for unity among His brethren continue to be fulfilled.

O Lord, I thank You for Your people, both paedobaptist and credobaptist. Our Father, we desire to be faithful to Your Word when it comes to the sacraments. Please, our God, in Your providence, would You be pleased to take away the fog and open our eyes to the beauty of Your sacraments? Would you be pleased to make it clear to us how You would have us treat them? As Your precious Son, Who is our Righteousness, has prayed, may we be brought to complete unity. Even as You are Triune, O Great Three-In-One, I lift this prayer to You in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

2 comments:

Josh Brisby said...

Friends,

I was talking to a brother yesterday at church, asking why he thought God has not made this issue clear to His Church yet. His response, I think, was very excellent. He suggested that, perhaps it was to drive us to the milk of the Word, and to cause us to crave the milk of the Word, even as newborn babies, and to crave prayer and communion with our Lord.

Our God is sovereingly and infinitely wise!

Anonymous said...

Not aware of ANY biblical reference to infant baptism. Not of Christ himself, or the 3000, or the Ethiopian eunuch, or ANYWHERE. Never once read specifically about an infant being baptized in Scripture. So why tiptoe around and say, in effect, "We'll never know"? The Bible's not as murky as some wish. Infant baptism can be traced historically to a law enacted by the Roman Catholic State in 416 A.D.

Don't mean to sound harsh about this, but there ARE some things that are true, and there ARE some things we can KNOW FOR SURE from Scripture. Otherwise, what's the point of His revealed Word if we're unwilling to learn the obvious teachings from it?

"Repent and be baptized," comes to mind. God could've said, "Be baptized and then repent," if he wanted I suppose. But he didn't. Infants can't repent. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Infants are born sinners--they are part of "all." "The wages of sin is death." "Whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life." Infants can't believe. "No man cometh unto the father but by me." Infants can't come to Christ. Again, "Repent and be baptized." The Bible's pretty clear.
Just my 2 cents.

Steve Hawkins
shawk1973@hotmail.com