Reformed Baptists and the Purity of the Church


“Did we make the cut?”

Having opened the week posting on the history of friendly interaction between Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists, I’ve made my way around to writing about a recent article by Westminster in California’s President, W. Robert Godfrey. Godfrey’s essay asks whether or not the Belgic Confession (one of the three confessional standards of the Dutch Reformed churches) indicates that Baptist churches are not churches, and, by implication, that Baptists are not Christians.

Godfrey’s conclusion is that our churches are churches, and our members Christians, even if our doctrine of baptism is imperfect. Far from taking offense at the implication that we are imperfect in this area (which is after all only to say that Godfrey actually subscribes to his church’s standards), I find myself challenged by the manner in which he applies his confessional standards with a spirit of charity.

This raises the question for Reformed Baptists: does our own confession lead us in the same catholic direction, and if so, are also we able to combine doctrinal rigor with a charitable outlook on the rest of Christ’s church? Continue reading


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Godfrey and the Baptists


W. Robert Godfrey

This week I have been addressing the matter of friendship and cooperation across denominational boundaries within the broader Reformed world. Yesterday, in writing about the example of cooperation being set by Westminster Seminary California and the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies, I mentioned a recent article by W. Robert Godfrey, WSC’s president, entitled “The Belgic Confession and the True Church.”

The article is being published in By Common Confession, a festschrift for James Renihan, dean of IRBS, and addresses the question, “Does the Belgic Confession, as some claim, require its subscribers to confess that all Baptist churches are false churches?” What is remarkable in this essay is that Godfrey does not reject confessional rigor as a means of adapting to the ecumenical spirit of the day. Instead he approaches his confession as a true subscriber and endeavors to determine from it whether or not his cooperation with Baptists is proper.

Today I intend to review this article in some detail, and tomorrow to make some application of it. Continue reading

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The Challenge of Cooperation


Oh, we totally trust each other!

Yesterday I wrote about the spirit of friendship and cooperation which has formed at least part of the true history of interaction between Presbyterians and Reformed on the one hand and Reformed Baptists on the other. Fellowship has flourished where there has been mutual appreciation and trust. Yet it seems that recently, distrust is growing. I concluded by asking:

In this context, two questions arise. First, is similar friendship and collaboration sustainable any longer? And second, is such cooperation across denominational and confessional lines even a good idea?

My answer to each of those questions is a resounding “Yes.” First, though, we need to understand why such fellowship is challenged. Continue reading


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The Westminster Factor


Once more into the waters?

In recent weeks this space has once again been dedicated to a defense of Baptist polity in a general sense, and of Reformed Baptist convictions more specifically. I am well aware that most of my readership is Baptist, and I worry that when this issue arises, I might unintentionally suggest a false view of the Presbyterian world.

There are, it seems, a never-ending stream of men who rise up to denounce Baptists with little understanding of our doctrine and no desire whatsoever to dialog with us. It has become my practice to respond, for which I do not apologize. At the same time, it must be said that the interaction of credobaptist and paedobaptist need not proceed along the lines of ignorance and enmity.

There is another story to tell – one of friendship, cooperation, and shared understanding. I intend to dedicate some space this week to tell that story, largely out of a commitment to honesty. I want no one to think that I imagine that Presbyterian and Reformed churches are represented only by those who denounce us without knowledge. Rather, the history of Presbyterian-Baptist fellowship has been largely a very good story; one which is worth noting here. Continue reading

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A Response to the Arguments for “Covenant Child Baptism”


“Schismatics! Every one of you! Repent, already!”

Last week the Aquila Report published an article by Pastor Jason Van Bemmel of the Presbyterian Church in America entitled “15 Arguments in Favor of Covenant Child Baptism.” The article was structured as ten arguments regarding subject (but with an eleventh “bonus” argument), and five more regarding mode.

This helpful list sumarizes every major Presbyterian and Reformed argument on baptism in one place, which is surprisingly rare. Various arguments have been advanced over the years, and not all paedobaptists agree with every argument. A list of arguments is therefore helpful for a number of reasons. Continue reading


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Random Thoughts


It’s true; I stole Thomas Sowell’s column format. If I put his picture here, that makes it OK, right?

With apologies to Thomas Sowell, here are some “random thoughts on the passing scene.”

It is universally accepted that “sheep-stealing” is an immoral approach to church growth. I seem to remember Someone who wasn’t too impressed with hirelings, though. When the sheep in the next field are starving to death, doesn’t “sheep-stealing” become a virtue? We need to promote the practice of “sheep-rescue.” The Humane Society would approve, but more to the point, so would the Good Shepherd. Continue reading


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Iron Sharpens Iron

ironThis is just a brief post to alert readers that tomorrow, D.V., I will be on the Iron Sharpens Iron show with Chris Arnzen.  The topic of our discussion will be the church’s role in the moral collapse of our society, which I blogged about early last month.  (The blog series begins here.)

Chris and I will be talking from 4:00 to 6:00 Eastern time, and you can livestream all or part of that discussion at his site.  I’ll update this post when the show hits his podcast, although it looks as though they are running a few weeks behind just now.


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