Archive for August, 2008

Added a Baptism Comment

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Update:

Anyone following my discussion with Mike Burgess on baptism may want to know that I’ve added a new comment. (I may write one more entry on it, then I’ll be setting aside the topic for now.)

Baptism Resources

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

I wrote my two entries on infant baptism because I’ve been encountering the subject in a few different places lately.  If you’re interested in thinking about the issues, you might check some of them out:

John Piper’s recent sermons

John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist, is dealing with a question of church membership.  Baptism is a standard requirement for membership–so Baptist churches have to decide, “Should we allow people to become members who were baptized as infants and will not be baptized as an adult, professing believer?”  (Piper would like to widen the existing policy to allow it.)  He has recently preached on How Important Is Church Membership?, and What Is Baptism, and How Important Is It?

The latter is a pretty good basic case for believer’s baptism.  If you only have time for one thing to listen to/read, I would recommend that.

Update: Also, the former is a pretty good case for why Christians ought to be committed to a particular local body of believers.

Debates

Dr. James White (a Reformed Baptist) and Pastor Bill Shisko debated baptism a couple years ago.  I’ve listened to it multiple times since I first downloaded it last year.  It’s a fairly accessible, if you’re studying the issue for the first time.  It’s a well-structured, pleasant debate.  It has some good back-and-forth, some cross-examination, and some audience questions. I would recommend this, if you’re willing to devote a couple hours. Here are the mp3s.

Dr. Robert B. Strimple (a paedobaptist) and Dr. Fred Malone (a Reformed Baptist) debated the subject at Westminster Seminary.  I think Dr. Strimple’s arguments are deeper than Pastor Bill Shisko’s–but I think Dr. White’s may have deeper than Dr. Malone’s.  Dr. Strimple presents a fairly strong case for the covenantal aspects of the paedobaptist view.   (But this debate has less interaction between the two, so I think it’s less useful in some ways.)  Here it is:  The Proper Subjects of Baptism

Some blog discussions

Sparked by Piper’s sermons, there has been some discussion lately in the blogosphere.  Frank Turk (aka centuri0n) has had some entries, with some challenging discussion in the comment sections.  (You’ll find some comments by me.) You can check them out at:

  1. First Up, Lutherans
  2. Kobra Konquest
  3. Corresponds to What?

Segment from Issues, Etc.

Here’s the segment that I mentioned in the previous entry, from Issues, Etc.

“Answering Objections to Infant Baptism” with Pastor Tim Pauls

Going Deeper on Baptism

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Mike Burgess was kind enough to comment on my previous entry on infant baptism.  (Mike is a Roman Catholic, formerly-Reformed, with whom I was previously discussing another matter at Beggars All blog.)  My reply become long enough that I’m going to make it a new entry.

If you don’t mind me dropping by to comment, I’d like to offer a few reflections on your post. I appreciated the civil interaction with you on the Beggars All thread.

When I was Reformed, I was a paedobaptist and paedocommunionist. There is a lot of really insightful paedocommunionist material available on the web from vital, Reformed men. You might look into it simply for research as you ponder these things. I can point to some if you’re interested.

No, not at all! Welcome to my blog.  I appreciate some challenge from various perspectives.  I also want to have a healthy respect for tradition–for the thoughts & reflections & commentary of other believers.  I think that’s an important, even vital part of Bible study.

I’m about to post an entry with links to the sermons, discussions, and debates on this topic which I’ve been reading & listening to lately. You would be more than welcome to add some recommendations.

The point here is that, using the remnant analogy, those Reformed men don’t fit your objection to the “inconsistency” charge.

I’m not sure what you mean by “the remnant analogy”. (Something like, “God’s covenant community has always consisted of the external community, with a smaller remnant of true believers–covenant signs have always been properly given to the children of those who believe, even if those children are not necessarily part of the remnant”?)

Yes, those who allow their children to take communion are not being inconsistent–not in the way I mentioned in my Example 1. I am aware that some do practice paedocommunion, which makes them consistent. But I have heard the argument from someone who does not practice paedocommunion, so the criticism applied. (In retrospect, I don’t know why I said that paedobaptists “usually” require a profession of faith for communion–I actually don’t know what the percentages are. I’m going to correct the other entry.)

Still, I expect that all paedobaptists face somewhat similar questions. If an adult converts and is baptized, and that convert has children, which of their children should be baptized? Infants? Kindergarteners? Teenagers? 25-year-olds living with their parents? 40-year-olds who have their own children, where extended families live under the same roof? Servants & slaves, who (in Biblical terms) are part of the “household”? (I’m curious–do you know Catholic practice in these matters?) (more…)

Change to the Links

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

FYI, I just changed a setting on my blog.  Previously, links to my posts were ugly, like this: “http://www.aglassdimly.com/?p=123

Now, they look more like this: “http://www.aglassdimly.com/2008/02/20/law-vs-gospel/

The old URLs still seem to work, fortunately.  Now all the links will be more expressive.

Carry on.

Thoughts on Infant Baptism

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Infant baptism (“paedobaptism”) has come up in a few contexts lately–some conversations, some radio shows, some blogs, etc.  I’d like to put down some thoughts.

1.) It’s Important

It’s important to figure this out.  We shouldn’t just shrug and say, “Oh well, people disagree.”  If infant baptism is valid, then we credobaptists (believer’s baptists) are withholding something from our children–not treating them as God would have us.  But if baptism is something that a believer does, then those who were “baptized” as infants are not obeying the Lord in his command to be baptized.  Either way, we are missing something.  God commanded this practice for a reason; if we take His commands seriously, we should do our best to understand them correctly.  We should go to the Scriptures, and do our best to understand them correctly.

2.)  It’s Intramural

This is a discussion between brothers in the Gospel.  It is a serious matter, but not one that decides your salvation.  (Though, if you believe that baptizing an infant saves them, it does start to get close to the question, “What is the gospel?”) (more…)

No Infallibility for Anyone

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

So, something I’ve been doing during the long gap between my posts has been an occasional comment on other blogs, under the name Jugulum.  One of my exchanges ended up being highlighted by Carrie (a contributor to the blog), who posted excerpts in a separate entry, saying,  “Not that the general discussion points haven’t been covered here and elsewhere many times over, but I thought Jugulum provided a nice clarity to the issue in his comments”.  Thanks, Carrie. :)

The exchange has to do with infallibility in Roman Catholicism.  One of the appeals of Catholicism is the idea of certainty.  If you have to read & interpret the Bible for yourself, how do you know if you’ve got it right? You’re just a fallible private interpreter.  But if you listen to the Church, you have an infallible interpreter to tell you what you should believe.

The major problem is this: Who interprets the interpreter?

When you read the Scriptures, you have to try to figure out what they mean.  You might get it wrong.  And when you listen to the Pope or read the Catechism or read the rulings of councils, then you also have to try to figure out what they mean, and you might get it wrong.  Either you’re reading the infallible Scriptures, or you’re reading (allegedly) infallible proclamations of the Church–and you have to interpret both.  Because you’re fallible, your theology will always be fallible–even if you were sitting at the feet of Christ during his ministry on earth, you could still misunderstand.

  • Note: This argument doesn’t tell us whether or not God actually did give us the Catholic teaching Magisterium to be our guide.  It just means that your theology will always be fallible, regardless of who’s right about sola Scriptura.  This common Catholic argument ends up being an (unintentional) shell game.
  • However, the Catholic system does offer something that would be nice, if it were really from God.  Even though we can’t become infallible, it would be nice to have an infallible interpreter.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to ask Paul what he meant sometimes?  To interact with him in person? If the Catholic Church (or the Orthodox Church) could actually give us authoritative interpretations from God, it would be nice.  (And we would be obliged to submit.)  But, we can be assured that if God didn’t give us such a thing, then we don’t need it.  If we Protestants are right that the only infallible authority is Scripture, then we can be confident that we have all the guidance we require–everything God wanted us to have.  (Other authorities–like tradition, philosophy, etc.–might be helpful, but they’re under Scripture, and they’re not infallible.)  If so, then Catholics are (sadly) seeing deficiency in what God has graciously lavished on us.  We need to get this right.

So, now that I’ve summarized it, on to the exchange.  It started when I replied to this comment from Alexander Greco:

Within Catholicism, granting that its teachings are true, a person has the possibility to know that he or she is holding beliefs at variance with sound doctrine, and can avoid this.

My reply starts here, and the exchange continues through the combox.  Or, if you don’t want to read everything, you can check out the excerpts pulled out by Carrie.