Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Church Membership and Baptism. Three Views.

The Gospel Coalition had three pastors present their views on Baptism as it relates to becoming a church member. The preface the three part series this way:
How do baptism and church membership relate? What are the biblical bounds? Baptists debate, "Must one be baptized as a believer in order to join a local church?" Meanwhile, Presbyterians and other paedobaptists consider, "Should one who'd refuse to let his children be baptized be permitted to join?"
See what you think. Read more at each link.
As a Baptist church, we believe that baptism is a matter of obedience. Jesus instructed his followers to baptize disciples (Matt 28:19), so we baptize those who have become disciples because we want to obey Jesus. We also believe that only believers are united to the body of Christ by faith (cf. Gal 3:26-28), so only believers should be welcomed as members into the visible expression of the body of Christ, the local church. If someone is not repenting of all known sin, trusting Christ for salvation, and submitting to all his commands and teaching, we don't welcome him or her into church membership. Since we view baptism as a matter of obedience, we understand unbaptized people to be disobedient on this point.
All of this entails, of course, that those who wish to become members must at least be willing and ready to present unbaptized children for baptism. Any who refuse to do so are in violation of what we are convinced is the express command of our Lord. Church discipline always begins with gentle admonition and instruction, usually in private, leading hopefully to repentance. However, it would be unwise to admit into full communion believers who are already in principle unwilling to change their mind on the matter.
I'm a very happy baptist---though you don't need to capitalize the baptist for me. But especially in our increasingly post-Christian milieu, it is becoming more and more clear that there are so many other theological issues more central and important than the mode and timing of baptism. I am happy to let the vestiges of Christendom go, and see formal church membership as significant enough to put up with some mistaken views of baptism (provided that the leadership is securely believer baptist), so as not to exclude from local church membership converted brothers and sisters in Jesus who are plainly members of the universal church.

No comments:

Post a Comment