5 responses to “Baptism, Baptist History, and Church Membership

  1. Jim,
    Good post–I am linking to this (and other pertinent blogs on this issue) at my blog.

  2. I used to be a Reformed Baptist, but no more. We disagree, but I think my understanding of Scripture and the Covenant of Grace is more consistent now. Particularly when we take the historical context of NT into account (lots of missions work => lots of credo baptism, just like Abraham in Paul’s discussion of circumcision in Romans 4).
    The talk of the ‘unbaptized’ member is misleading, to me. Bunyan and Piper are not talking about people who haven’t been baptized, period. Rather they are talking about people who haven’t been baptized according to their understanding of baptism. They are willing to say that though this issue may be clear to them, it may not be crystal to others.
    Not all conservative Presbyterian Churches I know of mandate that members practice infant baptism. We recognize that not all “get it” and display charity. It’s refreshing for me to hear some Baptists do likewise. We both hold our convictions- yet the timing of one’s baptism is NOT an essential doctrine, or this would be more clear to the side that misses the target.

  3. Joe Rigney


    This was one subject that you and I didn’t get to broach in our conversations last week. I’ll bet it would have been interesting. For the moment, I tend to lean toward Dr. Piper’s position on the issue. I gather from your post that you do not. Here are a couple of questions that might be interesting for you to post on. They are the issues that Pastor John has tried to make the main ones in the discussion at Bethlehem.

    The resolution to allow paedobaptists to be members is primarily about the requirements for membership in the local church, and secondarily about baptism. The central issue for Piper in this discussion is “should the door to membership in the local church be roughly the same as that of membership in the body of Christ universal?” Obviously, the rub comes with the word “roughly.” Essentially, Piper is arguing that we should not exclude from membership those whom we regard as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

    A second factor driving Piper in this direction is the fact that excluding someone from participation in the local church is a big deal. Because of the multiplicity of denominations and churches in this country, if we exclude someone whom we regard as regenerate from membership, we are able to comfort our conscience because there is a PCA church down the block. But should the fact that there is a church teaching what we regard as error (paedobaptism) down the block allow us to send Christians who desire to fellowship with us to another congregation?

    Just a couple of questions for you. Hope all is well in Houston.


  4. walt seevers

    What about those who do not practice water baptism at all?

  5. I would say what I have said on other posts: I cannot know whether or not they are regenerate. Only God knows whether someone is born again.

    But I can say that they are not Baptists!

    Hope this helps,


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