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Archive for the ‘Mark Dever’ Category

Dr. R. Scott Clark, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California, has been invited to respond to the controversy at the 9 Marks blog.  Dr. Clark posts a lightly revised version of what he had previously posted on his own blog.  Dr. Clark is not offended by Dr. Dever’s calling infant baptism sin and considers Dr. Dever to be in sin for not baptizing his own children.

Meanwhile, at Ref 21, PCA Pastor Richard Phillips and Dr. Carl Trueman of Westminster Theological Seminary weigh in.  Dr. Phillips joins others in wondering why Dr. Dever calls infant baptism sin but doesn’t refer to those who favor women elders  and other deviations as sinning.  Dr. Dever is certainly capable of answering for himself, but my guess is that his initial article in the 9 Marks e-journal that led to this outcry was not conceived as a careful theological treatise and that he would indeed consider churches that violate the Scriptures and appoint women elders, etc. to be guilty of sin.

Pastor Phillips also revealingly tells us that “While we all hold our inferences dearly, it must be admitted that the Bible does not spell out the subjects or the mode of baptism in crystal-clear terms (with the direct language, say, of Paul’s prohibition of women elders.)”  It is this idea, that the Bible isn’t really that clear on this issue, that would appear to be the root of much of the discomfort over the idea that one could be in sin for not getting baptism right.  I’ll also note that it is a perspective not shared by many of Pastor Phillips’ fellow Reformed and Presbyterian brethren and one that doesn’t appear to be reflected in the Reformed confessions.

Bro. Phillips also questions how “Together for the Gospel” we can be if we can’t all gather together at the Lord’s Table.  I think he may have a point here, although I do believe that orthodox Baptists and orthodox Presbyterians do have much in common and that Baptists are in most respects closer to conservative, confessional Presbyterians than we are to any other non-baptistic denomination.  While I’m sure much good has been accomplished through T4G, given their strong Baptist convictions, one wonders whether Drs. Mohler and Dever might be better served to focus more attention on more explicitly Baptist efforts, especially considering that events like T4G appear to have the unintended consequence of giving the impression that ecclesiology is relatively unimportant.  (One need not search the blogosphere long to find that view expressed by T4G fans.)  For a robust and balanced (IMHO of course) articulation of Historic Baptist principles, see John L. Dagg’s Manual of Church Order.

Dr. Trueman merely gives us what I can at best describe as an ill executed attempt at humor and at worst a post that represents an eruption of the arrogance if not ignorance about Baptists that those of us who have spent much time among certain of the Reformed brethren have unfortunately come to expect at times.

May we assume by these responses that these leading lights among the Reformed disagree with the following  from Chapter 28 of the Westminster Confession of Faith?

4. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.

5. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

I am a convinced Baptist.  But when these kinds of disagreements arise, I say let a Baptist be a Baptist and a Presbyterian be a Presbyterian, and let’s not get too excited when one considers the other to be in sin when discussing the issue.  However, it appears today that there are many otherwise sound men among both the Baptists and the Presbyterians who just aren’t that sure when it comes to ecclesiology, aren’t convinced that the Bible speaks clearly or authoritatively on some of the issues or think the issue to be relatively unimportant.

Indignation or outrage over Dr. Mark Dever’s or Dr. R. Scott Clark’s statements is a sign of the doctrinal indifference and in some cases, immaturity of our age.  It seems that throwing out the “s-bomb” or “h-bomb” when when we believe that the practice of others clearly contradicts Scripture just isn’t politically correct these days. I mean, we wouldn’t want someone’s feelings to get hurt….

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Mark Dever graciously responds to those who have expressed concern over this statement from this month’s 9Marks ejournal:

“I have many dear paedo-baptists friends from whom I have learned much. Yet I see their practice as a sinful (though sincere) error from which God protects them by allowing for inconsistency in their doctrinal system, just as he graciously protects me from consistency with my own errors.”

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