Momentarily I will be bowing out of the baptism discussion. It seems that things have blown up beyond healthy discussion. Dr. John MacArthur threw the recent first blow by calling paedobaptism “demonic” and a radio show comprised of pastors responding with comments like, “So in like manner, there are truly elect and saved people, including Baptists, in the world, people miserably torn, scattered, and deceived by false teaching and sectarianism and idolatry.”
We must all realize that when foolish things are said from both sides of the argument it becomes real easy to let the sin which remains in us to get the best of us and react out of anger and frustration. It follows that when speaking in this state of emotion, insults tend to pop up whether they are direct or subtle. I refuse to insult my paedobaptist brethren whom I truly respect and love. This is why I do not, at the moment, desire to pursue the discussion of baptism. I will gather myself and reflect on the Gospel of Jesus Christ our justification.
I do want to point out one thing, though. It seems there is Gospel confusion going on. To tie in the subjects of baptism with the Gospel itself in a roundabout way, it seems to me, is to cause or be the result of Gospel confusion. To indicate the only way we can make a sound judgement of who is or is not a co-laborer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the basis of local church membership and then make paedobaptism a pre-requisite for local church membership is to say that Baptists are out side of the visible church and to question their part in the body of Christ. That is to smuggle in paedobaptism as an essential. That is what you deny at the front door is let in through the back door. Or as Dr. James White says “to major on the minors and minor on the majors.”
That is why it is difficult for some paedobaptists to affirm that Baptists are “saved people” in simple words. What we get are statements like, ““So in like manner, there are truly elect and saved people, including Baptists, in the world, people miserably torn, scattered, and deceived by false teaching and sectarianism and idolatry.” This coming after a comparison of Calvin’s view of some elect people in the false church of Rome, “The requisite extent, depth, and maturity of the knowledge which is a necessary component of true faith, is mysterious, and should not be oversimplified. For this reason, for example, Calvin can say about people in what he calls the decidedly false Roman Catholic churches of his day “In one word, I call [Roman Catholic parishes] churches, inasmuch as the Lord there wondrously preserves some remains of his people, though miserably torn and scattered. . .” (Institutes 4.2.12).”
My theology is not limited to that of the sixteenth century. Christianity did not begin nor end there. I have no need to be esoteric in my judgment of the body of Christ.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…(1 Co 15:1–4).
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose (Ga 2:15–21).
It is my judgment that if one believes the above- be it paedobaptist or credobaptist they indeed will be found in a local church body that is founded and remains on the Gospel of Jesus Christ- they are my brother or sister in Christ. It is not really that difficult.
Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,