Friday, August 17, 2007

Baptism and Church Membership - Would RC Sproul Be Permitted to Receive Communion at Capitol Hill Baptist Church?

If I understand this quote correctly from the recently released “Believer’s Baptism” (edited by Tom Schreiner and Shawn Wright), Mark Dever creates a category for allowing temporary full fellowship in his Baptist church with a paedobaptist brother or sister:

“Questions of visitors coming occasionally to the table may be separated from the question of Christians regularly coming as members under the care and guidance of that particular congregation. Such occasional communion may be considered as similar to occasional pulpit fellowship, or other kinds of Christian cooperation between congregations that may not agree on secondary matters but that would agree on the primary issue of the gospel. On the issue of pulpit fellowship with those who have not been baptized as believers, see Dagg, Church Order, 286—298. Dagg concluded that it was not inconsistent for a Baptist congregation to allow someone to preach to it and yet for the congregation to deny that same paedobaptist minister membership in their Baptist congregation.”

Mark Dever, “Baptism in the Context of the Local Church” from “Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ” footnote 16. p. 341.

I can see both the wisdom and the Christian charity in this and appreciate that it is one way of dealing with the question of how to treat our paedobaptist brothers and sisters when we worship God together.

Baptism and Church Membership - A Reference to the Red Herring

In reference to my post on baptism / church membership yesterday, a commenter asked for some kind of proof that those against the idea of opening church membership to convinced, saved paedobaptists fall back on the red herring of “What Might Happen If...” I think there have been many such instances, but here is one from print from my friend Mark Dever. Contextually, he is including paedobaptists in his category of “unbaptized.”

“When a noncongregational style of government is adopted, the acceptance 0f the unbaptized into membership may seem initially without effect. But a subtle indifference to doctrine may be communicated. Furthermore the bulk of members may come to hold the allowed exception, and the teaching ministry of the church on this—and other—points may begin to stray. Such a tendency would not be unprecedented in the history of once great evangelical churches.”

Mark Dever, “Baptism in the Context of the Local Church” from “Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ” p. 342

Book Review: "On the Move" by Bono

Book Review: On the Move by Bono

I have had On the Move on my shelf for some time and have read it three or four times. Part of the reason for re-reading it is that I have always liked Bono and find I am always trying to give him the benefit of the doubt (despite what some detractors have accused!).

With that in mind, you should know that this book is really a speech that Bono gave to the US National Prayer Breakfast in 2006 set to images and photographs mostly taken by Bono himself. In the speech, Bono was asking for the US Government to consider spending one percent of the Federal Budget on foreign aid. And that may be a very good idea.

But what is frustrating with Bono is his appeal to Christianity as the basis for this action – as if the Bible called for this kind of thing. What is more, Bono likes to reach into all of the world’s major religions and clip quotes that support his ideas. None of this is new for the longtime vocalist of U2.

Bono typifies much of what passes for “theological thought” these days. 1. Quote a few Bible verses that use words that touch on your issue. 2. Inject your own ideas into these verses (ignoring context and the scope of redemptive history). 3. Cry shame on Christians who do not do what you do or at least do not do what you want them to do (for as Bono admits in his speech: “there’s something unnatural.... perhaps something unseemly... about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the South of France.” It is little wonder Bono is a kind of patron saint to the more radical end of the Emergent movement.

But the fundamental problem in Bono’s speech/book is this: it preaches a Christless, works-salvation. Bono calls for Spirit-empowered actions from dead-in-sin people... and subtly promises them that God will be pleased with what they do. That is not Christianity. That is Pharisiism. And that works-righteousness is at the heart of every world religion – except Biblical Christianity.

Should Christians do all they can to alleviate the suffering of the poor and oppressed? Without question! But of far greater importance is getting the Gospel of Jesus Christ straight and proclaiming it to all – poor and rich alike.

This world does not need the “Beatitudes for a Globalized World.” What it needs is Jesus Christ: First and Last! And all those converts to Jesus will join with all those other converts to keep preaching Jesus... and doing much to minister to the suffering.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sometimes I Just Pretend This is Really Me!

New Jersey Devils re-sign defenceman Paul Martin to multi-year deal:

"'Paul Martin is an all-situations type of defenceman, and has developed into one of the more talented young players in the National Hockey League,' said general manager Lou Lamoriello"

[Anyway, it really impresses my kids on a Saturday night the Leafs play the Devils and they hear Bob Cole say, "Paul Martin finds the puck in the corner..."]

[[And strangely enough, I once DID play for a team called the Devils, up in Hanover, Ontario. The boys in that beer league used to call me "the priest." I led the team in penalty minutes. You should have heard those boys yapping at the refs about "throwing the priest in the box!"]]

[[[How much fodder do you need to mock me, Brooker?]]]

A Red Herring in the Baptism / Membership Debate

The interesting debate concerning whether or not a Baptist church should allow into membership convinced paedobaptists is heating up again.

It began with Wayne Grudem’s new edition of his systematic theology, wherein (as nicely highlighted by JT) Grudem reverses from his previous position. Now he argues that unity in a local congregation between paedobaptists and credobaptists is not wise or really possible.

John Piper weighed in almost immediately pointing out some disagreements and Grudem replied with a defense of his reversal.

Not to be outdone, Mark Dever stirred the pot a little more with his post that supports Grudem’s side from a congregational/Baptist model. Although Mark did write while on vacation and I think he can offer more.

As for me, it seems that the Grudem/Dever side (or maybe we should just call it the “non-Piper side” since Piper seems to be standing quite alone on this matter!) always comes back to the same argument. In an over-simplified form, it states: “If we let paedobaptists become members, they will eventually take over the theology of the local congregation and pull them away from their Baptist distinctives.”

You know, this may be true.

Or it may not.

But consider this.

How many local churches remain steadfast to the Gospel for more than one or two generations? Honestly, there are very few. And that problem is created by a lack of indoctrinating and “entrusting to faithful men” more than anything else! To suggest that barring paedobaptists from membership will “preserve” the local Baptist church is a red herring and needs to be removed from the discussion.

For my part, I would much rather see our church fellowship with a godly, Calvinistic, theologically-robust, Gospel-driven, Christ-centered, sanctified Paedobaptist congregation any day... than sidle up to a worldly, atheological, man-centered Baptist “church.” And I think most of the “non-Piper side” would agree with me – hence, Together for the Gospel.

I wonder if part of what drives the non-Piper side is fear - the fear of losing people or losing an entire church in years to come? If that is the case, then we need to apply our robust theology to the matter. One: God has determined the future in its entirety and no matter what steps I take now, I will be a complete failure at managing from the grave. Two: If I am faithful, like the Apostle Paul, to train and equip the next generation of leaders (which includes a whole lot of teaching on the meaning and nature of credo- baptism...) then I have fulfilled my ministry.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Canadian Carey Family Conference Sermons

Canadian Carey Family Conference Sermons

Carey Conference is just a few days away. I was looking on the website for some information when I came across this forgotten page. Here you can access nearly 100 sermons for free! And what a lineup! D. A. Carson, Jerry Bridges, Geoff Thomas, and Martin Holdt just to name a few.

Each year the main speaker preaches 5 times on one topic. Then, 7 of our own men take other various topics or passages. With no offence intended toward the main speakers, I have to say that I have always benefited just as much from our own men as I have from "the big names."

If you are not able to attend Carey this year, be sure to download some sermons for your own encouragement! Messages by this year's speaker, Jim Elliff, should be posted on the site in early September or sooner - so check back soon!