From The Mailbag; Baptists and Synergism?

Pastor Bret

Could you tease out why it is that you connect synergism with Baptist expressions of Christianity?

Thank you,

EP in Ann Arbor

Dear EP

Thank you for the question.

If you want to skip to the money part of your question being answered skim down to the italicized paragraph.

The answer comes down to the issue of Baptism. All Baptists, of course, refuse to Baptize infants insisting that they must have a confession of faith from the child before the child is to be baptized. This, of course, is the legacy of their Anabaptist heritage which broke with the Magisterial Reformers on the issue of Infant Baptism.

So, we see, that with Reformed Baptists at least, they have tried to slam together the ecclesiology of the Anabaptists with the soteriology of the Reformed. I have always said this tertium quid makes for some unstable and contradictory theology.

This unstable and contradictory theology is seen no more starkly than on the issue of infant Baptism. On one hand the Reformed Baptists avers that we are saved by Grace Alone (soteriology) but on the other hand membership in the Church can only be extended to people who reached some kind of age of accountability so can articulate a confession of faith (ecclesiology). Without that confession of faith articulated children, while perhaps being saved, should not be received into the Church as saved.

The synergism in the Baptist “thinking” I see is that whatever the adult can bring in order to be baptized and so received as a covenant member in good standing in the Church that an infant cannot bring in order to be Baptized is some kind of work that needs to be exchanged (traded in) for salvation. Baptists, in my estimation, when it comes to infant baptism insist on looking for the subjective response to God’s grace (the giving of some kind of confession) as opposed to just looking to God’s grace found in the promises and commands that God gives. However, just as the children of Israel didn’t have to wait for circumcision before they made a subjective response to grace so our children are covenant members from birth.

The upshot of this Baptist thinking is that when Baptism does finally occur in the Baptist church, the emphasis seems to fall on the decision made as opposed to the God who called and who made promises to us and to our children. Baptism communicates that God does all the saving. Baptism does not communicate the wonder of our decision.

The Baptist seems to assume that the infant of Christian parents isn’t saved until the child opts in, whereupon the child, upon opting in by confession is granted Baptism. To the contrary the paedo-Reformed, believing God includes in the covenant both Christian parent(s) and their seed by virtue of God’s promises brings their children to the Baptismal fount to be showered with the blessing of Christ. The paedo-Reformed extends the judgment of charity to their seed and believes God faithfulness until such a time, God forbid, the child has repudiated the blessings of the covenant. At that point we begin to treat them as rebels against God who need to be evangelized.

This is serious serious error that ought not to be lightly glided over. Yet, we realize how patient God has been and continues to be with us so we embrace Reformed Baptists as brothers in Christ and pray that God would open their eyes to a more Biblical Christianity.

May God be pleased to make the faith of both our families truly generational.

” For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. ” Acts 2:39

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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