Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chris Poe on Mark Dever and Baptism

I think one of the brightest new stars in the blogging firmament is Chris Poe. I really like his stuff. It may be unfair to brand him as "new" to blogging, since One Pilgrim's Progress has been around from as early as 2006. Nevertheless, his monthly average number of posts for the first three years of blogging might easily be counted on one hand of a farsighted carpenter, whereas since February he has been posting something substantive at least every other day.

His most recent post caught my attention because I can really relate. I tried to defend Mark Dever the last time he publicly owned his sincere convictions about credobaptism, and some folks tried to slap me around about it online. Now, Dr. Dever has rightfully broached the subject again and Chris has written a cogent defense of Mark's statement. My favorite section reads:

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.

Chris's entire article is excellent. I highly recommend it.


Greg Welty said...

You had a related blog post on this subject, way back on 7 September 2007. It was a post that generated 132 comments.

FWIW, I posted several lengthy comments in that dispute. Here are links to five of them:

Comment 1

Comment 2

Comment 3

Comment 4

Comment 5

BTW, the last comment partially addresses the T4G endeavor, but in a way that seeks to be consistent with the position outlined in the preceding four comments.

Bart Barber said...

Thanks, Greg. The link to the earlier post is the sort of thing one would expect the blog host to trouble himself to do, is it not?!

You expose my laziness. ;-)

Chris Poe said...

Dr. Welty,

Thanks for the links. I'll have to review that post and the comments. Since I was still a Presbyterian at the time I wasn't following such discussions.

Chris Poe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Poe said...

Dr. Barber,

Thank you for your kind comments.

I have enjoyed following your blog and your comments on other blogs recently as well as I've been attempting to sort out my own identity as a Baptist.

In the interest of full disclosure, One Pilgrims Progress only started with the post in January 2009 and was to the best of my recollection created no earlier than December 2008. No doubt this is why the site you referred to a while back said One Pilgrims Progress was worth $0!

However, with the vast dictatorial powers that WordPress grants to blog administrators, I was able to transfer posts from a couple of previous blogs that I had on Blogger ("Confessional Presbyterian" and "Baptist Identity") and make it look seamless. You can even transfer comments, insert the name and website, etc., change the time and date stamps and make it all look legit to the unsuspecting eye. :) (I did note what I was doing here.)

With Blogger, I think transferring posts would have been doable, but it appears that all the administrator can do with comments once they've been posted is delete them. Comments could be transferred from a previous blog, but I don't think there's a way to change who posted the comment, so they would all show as being posted by the admin or contributor.

Although many of my earlier posts do not represent my current views, I decided to transfer all of the substantial posts since they do show a progression in my views over the past three years, even though most of the posts were either short posts that alerted the reader to off site resources or were excerpts from older writers. In my opinion Gardiner Spring's Distinguishing Traits of Christian Character is a useful book and I may eventually finish posting it after I finish posting "Baptist Why and Why Not." Otherwise there wasn't much point in transferring those posts.

I have been quite active in various forums and email lists in the past several years, but as you note I have only recently begun to focus on blogging and commenting on blogs in earnest. So far in February and March of this year I have 29 posts, which is almost as many posts as I made from 2006-Jan 2009.

Alan Cross said...

Thanks for linking to this, Bart. As one who attempted to slap you around a bit on this issue, upon further reflection, I can see Dever's point. Anything that falls short of God's glory is sin. I have no issue with that. What bothered me about the language the first time around in this debate is that Presbyterians were being called "unrepentant sinners." Maybe I am getting caught up in semantics, but calling someone an unrepentant sinner seems to point to a state of lostness. I understand the logic in using that phraseology, but I think that we are better served with saying that to not be properly baptized is a sin than by saying that the person who is wrong over this issue is an unrepentant sinner.

Committing a sin is an act of falling short of God's glory that all Christians are guilty of. Praise God for grace.

Being an unrepentant sinner is an identity that seems to point to a lack of relationship with God or a severing of that relationship. Is that what we want to say about Presbyterians?

Maybe I am reading too much into this. But, I find myself being able to agree with what Poe and Dever have said about paedobaptism being a sin, but I stumble over calling Presbyterians "unrepentant sinners" as a designation. Maybe I just have a weightier understanding of what that term describes than others.

Chris Poe said...

Dr. Welty,

Thank you for posting these links. I haven't read every comment yet, but it appears that the discussion was, as Dr. Finn noted, one of the better discussions of this issue on the internet.

Chris Johnson said...

Brother Bart,

What I always find interesting about what one interprets baptism to be….is the manner in which each of the interpreters initially weigh their method and reasons as inerrant. For instance,…the infant baptizer is basing their interpretation in what God provided for Moses and future Israel while making a trigger for the transient nature of one sign (circumcision) to the next sign (baptism). It is on this basis that the believing immersion method is rendered sin, because the latter method waits for man’s approval, not God’s command.

It seems to me that the believing immersionist has another idea based upon something quite different….that being the recognition of Christ’s command and identification with Him as the Apostle would say….and the immersionists testimony is that those abiding by any other design are deemed as being in “gross error”.

It appears that for now “gross error” is a game of keep away for many in both camps. I agree with Chris Poe, in that it is important to teach what Christ commands…where in some instances making disciples ends up like Chris and others. We have two adults being baptized this next week that were sprinkled as infants. Sometimes it takes a while for those that have been raised in other environments and sprinkled, and taught the purposes why,…to reevaluate their obedience to Christ. Thank God that He continues to sanctify His children!