Wednesday, February 01, 2006

About Baptism

I spent my childhood attending a liberal anglo-catholic Church of England church. There are learnt the very basics of Christian faith from the liturgy that was spoken each week. I also defaulted to several other assumed positions, such as paedobaptism.

I became a Christian around the age of 18 just before going to University. There I found myself in a credobaptist church, connected with Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. As I began to search the scriptures for the first time myself I never encountered much of a case for paedobaptism and became fairly convinced about credobaptism. That church was followed by four years in a Baptist church in Reading where the same convictions were reinforced.

Now back in the Church of England I'm beginning to think about baptism once again... David Field cites Peter Leithart on paedobaptism whilst Justin Taylor and Rick Phillips are debating the same. Andrew Sach writes about it.

Considering arguments, and spending some time chatting with Bishop Wallace Benn has put me on the fence in this matter. If pushed I'm still fairly convinced by the credo position but I'm starting to see that the case isn't quite as black and white as I thought. Hmmmm.


  1. Same happened to me. While I'm not persuaded yet, I'm definately rethinking my hardline full immersion as an adult position a little.


  2. Its interesting that reading Calvin lead Mark Dever to become a presbyterian attending credo baptist. I am probably the same as you regarding the issue, I personally blame(:-)) the Free Church of Scotland where I recieved so much good sound teaching when a student

  3. Haha. I'm "still fairly convinced by the paedo position but" I know the case isn't black and white at all. Was just chatting about it with my team leader here - said I've studied it so much over the past (hmm, 5?) years that I'm now sure and certain that I'm definitely and convincedly undecided ;-) Which isn't like I'm happy with that. I'm currently making my way through this beast of a monergism page - I'll let you know when I've got it all sorted ;-D

    My Father is of pure presbyterian stock and conviction and my Mum was a baptist before being convinced otherwise (not by my Dad particularly!), I'm a presbyterian in church membership who's attended independent baptistic churches for the past 5 years... At least the first let me be a member.

    What frustrates me is people being dismissively dogmatic from either side - not that I mind them being convinced that they're right, of course we should be - but making out that it IS black and white, and restricting fellowship by it really bugs me. To be honest, it's been mostly credobaptists who've been like that - take the recent blogosphere debates. I sent a note off to ref21 thanking them for their exchange - breath of fresh air in its tone.

    Midlands had Dick Lucas (I think it was he anyway) at a Team Day the year before I was on relay and I was very amused by my friend who was then an RW saying that following a free-time discussion with him, for the first time she saw how one could be an evangelical and a paedobaptist. Apparently I'd failed in showing her that before - gulp!

    Sorry for the long comment. Tis a bit of a sacred cow for me ;-)

  4. Yeah. Heard about that. It was Garry Williams, so I heard. Thanks for the link.

  5. My dogmatic days behind me ;) I am also on the fence, thinking both sides arguments are wrong! Trouble is there must be a right argument, I just have not heard it yet.

    Thankfully I do not need to make a decision, with Anglican ministry not even on my furthest horizon. Of course, Anglican ministry is especially difficult seeing as the law of the land soon starts messing up the pretty theology.

    I tend to think that the Apostles were making it up as they went along...

  6. I have always agreed with the paedo position, but not with the way it is applied or understood in a lot of churches that practice it (often just a right of passage, a nice day out for the family rather than a serious Christian commitment), and not with the way 'dunking' is often viewed negatively in some Anglican churches.

    On the other hand most credobaptism is not, contrary to the claim, done in a manner particularly faitful to the bible either. If it were, new believers would be baptised almost immediately, in the nearest available water! Theres nothing wrong with baptism classes per se, but its the faith commitment thats important, not the head knowledge.

    Glad that you are thinking hard about it, and recognising that this is not a Gospel issue! It not being the actualy act of baptism that saves us, on that we can all agree.

  7. oh I'm going to have to post something on this thread, I can't resist... I just haven't got the time right now to put something coherant. I agree with all that it's not a gospel issue, and that must be clearly understood in any discussion of this, but it is quite interesting to think about the difficulties you get into when running a church. Putting aside for a minute the reasons why credo or paedo might be right, I think the reason that credo people can seem to be more hardline on it is that it is difficult for a baptist to accept infant baptism as legitimate, whereas it is no problem for a peadobaptist to have an adult, who has never been baptised, baptised by full immersion. Hence St. Helen's Bishopsgate et al may have a baptistry as well as a font. The matter of practice can be quite difficult. Mark Dever was interesting on this last week, I grabbed him at half time and we talked about this briefly, re his membership thing... he would teach against infant baptism as an error whilst still having a number of presby and CofE friends. How that works out gets complicated. I can relate a little to what Rosemary's friend said, as someone brought up in a baptistic church, I couldn't see for the life of me where the C of E got the idea of baptising babies from in the bible. Now I understand the arguments more clearly, and the nature of the covenant theme through scripture is quite compelling, but I think it still assumes too much, and, as has been said by many (inc Piper in Bros we are not prof) it seems to me paedobaptists underestimate the discontinuity between the covenants. I really don't think you see infant baptism in the NT. I agree with hatchris that baptists often separate baptism from conversion in an unhealthy way. But that isn't actually an argument against adult credo baptism in principle...
    anyway, I said I wasn't going to post at length but I have. I'll leave it to you all to decide whether it makes any sense or not. I have more thoughts but they can wait...