Thursday, August 19, 2010

On Being Baptist

I love this venn diagram by Alex Baker,

But there are other reasons for being Baptist, like
  1. congregational discernment of the mind of Christ - OK, in the west we do struggle not to turn this into democracy with all the attendent political fallout, but I'd rather shoot for the stars of Rom 12:1-8 than settle for the beaurocrats making decisions for the local congregation.
  2. a commitment to New Testament Christianity - OK, you've gotta be careful not to look at the early church with rose tinted specs, and you have to realise that as the world changes so will the way the church presents the gospel to that world, but honestly I'm not interested in imitating the reformers or the fathers any more than as far as they imitated Christ.  And if that is my goal then I might as well start with Christ first.  I'm grateful for church history, its legacy and lessons, but the church of today honours the church of yesterday, not by imitating them, but by doing with equal vigour and determination what they did, submitting themselves to the teachings of Christ and his apostles.
  3. we don't baptise babies - how can a sign of repentance, conversion, and wilingness to die to self be performed for a baby?  Honestly, of all the confusing things to do, you don't come to Christ through having something "done" to you. If baptism of infants works, why don't we just run round throwing water over everyone, they'll thank us one day, won't they?  
  4. James William McClendon

So, what's your excuse? ;-)


  1. I like this, for a first read of your blog Jonathan we are off to a good start :)

    My thoughts on the baptising babies, or rather my querie, is that, is it seen as a baptism as we know it from tradition and scripture, or is it seen as a congregational comittment to support the faith of that child as the grow up?

    also, i noted stephanie said she joined the baptists because of the music. for me i like point 1 you make, for me it has relationship all through it (or should do) and develops a greater connectivity feel amongst a community of beleivers.

    if this comment is to long, or doesnt make sense, feel free to inform me of any unwritten blog-commenting rules i may have missed :)

  2. Adam! you are most welcome! :-) I know that other Christian traditions have good reasons for doing what they do, although I would suggest that those good reasons don't always filter down very well. I just think our reasons are better. :-) My comments above were deliberatly provocative, and (only) slightly tongue in cheek.

    Please comment as much or as little as you see fit, as long as your comment is on topic, not spam and reasonably civilised I am just pleased to have comments :-) your comment satisfies all three criteria admirably.

  3. Cool man, all ways good to through some controversy into the mix. and in case i confused you, i was referring to Stephanie that spoke at 'after dinner mints' on Tuesday.

    Adam :)

  4. you did confuse me a bit, cos i wasn't there on tues. but now i know which adam you are. :-)

  5. First of all, cool diagram. Very funny!

    But then there is this...

    "Honestly, of all the confusing things to do, you don't come to Christ through having something "done" to you."

    Uhh...yeah you do. It's called regeneration. God's free grace. God "does" that to you. It seems more confusing to exclude the children of believers from God's family, when there is no command to do this in the New Testament (either for that matter). Love to see it if it is there...

  6. Hi Pat, welcome to the blog, thanks for commenting. This wasn't meant to be a detailed treatment of theology of baptism. but to briefly address you're very pertinent points:

    1. isn't regeneration a consequence of coming to Christ rather than the means of doing so?
    2. there is no command not to put your children into exploitative pageants either, but i have no problem pointing out the inconsistency and innapropriateness of that either.

  7. 1. no.

    2. so you really think that infant baptism is similar to an exploitative pageant? I'm not sure this will be a conversation worth having with you if that is your approach...

    But do think about this: while exploitative pageants were never a part of God's way of dealing with and gathering a people for himself, incorporating the children of those who confess Him into the church/assembly/family was part and parcel of His way of doing things from the beginnings of the Lord's dealings with humanity. The burden of proof is on Baptist types who want argue that with the coming of Christ, this has changed.


  8. Pat, the vast majority of NZ Baptists are Arminian, so we would answer "yes" to 1. If your theology is reformed (which, since you are a Presby, I assume it is) then I think it makes perfect sense to baptise infants.

    Jonathan, I like the blue.

  9. Thanks Pat, I hope I haven't scared you off, I think in order not to get into worse trouble I need to save this for a later debate, but suffice to say, certain social acts are only appropriate for adults, perhaps joining the army would be a less offensive parallel for baptism?

    Thanks Rhett, I thought i better tidy up round here now that I have such quality as yourself commenting on my blog ;-)


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