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Archive for June, 2008

Note: (2/15/09)  Instead of merely linking to a post on the PuritanBoard, where I was then serving as a moderator, I thought that as I transfer older posts to this new blog that I’d include the full text here.  The following is the substance of an email I sent to both the pastor of the congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America that we had been attending and were in the process of joining and also to the pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of which I was then a member.  My wife and I are now members of a Southern Baptist church.  If I were to write on this subject today I might change a few things about it, but in general the following represents my current views:

Until Saturday night I would have told you that I was a convinced paedobaptist and Presbyterian. I was even prepared to sell most of my Baptist books, even including several ones by and about Spurgeon. However as I had told you in our first meeting, I have always struggled with Acts 2:41 and never thought that passage taken as a whole was nearly as favorable to paedobaptism as many think. No paedo has ever been able to answer it completely to my satisfaction. Whenever I have asked the question (including several times on the PB) I usually get stony silence. Others will respond with some kind of snide comment like “Baptists just don’t get it”. Others will try to argue that there were no children there that day. If I recall correctly during that meeting you responded with something like “we shouldn’t get hung up on one verse” or “we shouldn’t allow one verse to determine things.” However, I suppose I just ignored my concerns up until now. But I read it in context Saturday night and it hit me like a ton of bricks:

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:41-42

Some will argue that the reference to “breaking of bread” in Acts 2:42 is not necessarily a reference to the Lord’s Supper. It is used as a proof text in the Westminster Standards at WCF 21.5, 21.6, 26.2, WLC 63, 108, 154, 174, 175 and WSC 50 and 88. Several of these are general references to the means of grace but Acts 2:42 is used in other instances as a proof text specifically for the Lord’s Supper.

I interpret these verses to teach that, first of all, those who received Peter’s word that day were baptized (i.e. only those personally professing faith) and that this same group continued steadfastly breaking bread which typically included in those days the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. These two verses, in my opinion, throw the Reformed teaching of paedobaptism and credo communion into serious doubt. It appears that the two choices that do justice to the unity expressed here are either adopting Baptist views or adopting paedocommunion. Unfortunately, many in Reformed churches are opting for the latter. This is why we see so many who come from Baptist backgrounds like Doug Wilson, Gregg Strawbridge and Randy Booth adopting paedocommunion soon after becoming paedobaptists. A whole lot more NT evidence can be marshaled against paedobaptism than can be brought to bear against paedocommunion. Once one has explained away all of the “believe and be baptized” verses in favor of an overarching concept of covenant theology that is imposed upon the scriptures, why let 1 Cor. 11 get in the way of practicing paedocommunion?

I am glad that churches like the PCA have up until this point held the line against paedocommunion. But I believe at this point that the teaching of the Westminster Standards on this subject is inconsistent and am thinking that those who have argued that the western church abandoned paedocommunion after the adoption of transubstantiation because of concerns that the child would throw up the elements have a point. Of course the eastern church has never abandoned paedocommunion and will force alcoholic wine down the throat of children who are barely more than infants.

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