Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Bapterian Church

It is high time that Reformed Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists unified into the Bapterian Reformation Church. We could reduce the number of Protestant denominations by 0.02% to stem some of the criticism that Protestants are a fractured lot of nitpickers.

The simplest definition of a Bapterian is this: A Bapterian is one who enjoys a glass of wine during pot-luck, right there in front of everyone!

Bapterians, when they get emotional in church, are encouraged to raise both hands to shoulder height, or just one hand above the head.

There is no room for those dour theonomists in the Bapterian church. That can stay in their respective denominations and play out their silly fantasies of world domination. The Bapterians embrace the Separation of Church and State.

One friend in particular likes the idea of Bapterianism so much that he decided we should flesh out more details of this new denomination. For example, he suggested the syncretic compromise of calling baptism and the Lord's supper ordinary sacraments. 

As for baptism, we decided that we should have infant baptism, and a believer's dedication. That is, parents will present their child for the sign of covenantal inclusion, and then, when the child is able to make a credible profession of faith, he dedicates himself to the church, through immersion. Why, it's perfect! Why didn't Calvin and Zwingli come up with this?

We didn't get into the church government question—that might be the trickiest road to navigate on the way to unification. That, and the breakdown between wine and grape juice in the trays--should it be wine in the outer circle and grape juice in the middle, or vice-versa?

On a more serious matter, we discussed the real question: when should a baptism not "stick?" That is, suppose you were baptized as an infant in a Catholic church, but are now, as an adult, a Presbyterian. Should your baptism count?

My view is that it should, the efficacy of the sacrament being separate from the spiritual state of the presiding official. After all, there are certainly unbelieving clergy from any denomination who performed baptisms, weddings, and conducted the Lord’s supper. Upon discovery of their apostasy, we would not go back and re-baptize anyone whom they had baptized over the years.

On the other hand, I think a church should permit a person to be baptized again, if that makes them feel comfortable. This discussion started because one of my friends had been baptized in a Catholic church but was not a believer until she was an adult, at which time she joined a Presbyterian church. She wanted to be baptized again, but the church (correctly, I believe) told her it wasn't necessary. On the other hand, the church should have said: but we will, if you feel it is important. There is a school of thought in the Presbyterian Church that re-baptism is in some manner insulting to God. You are asking God to, once again, demonstrate his covenant, as if you don't believe he'll deliver on the basis of the first time the promise was made. Hmm--the story of God and Gideon leads me to believe that God doesn't mind if we ask him again and again. While (obviously) one shouldn't treat baptism willy-nilly, I see no scripture that supports the view that an adult, who for whatever reason feels uncomfortable about his baptism, cannot be baptized again. It appears to me to be a man-made restriction and, as such, is ultimately incorrect.

A Bapterian church would surely allow a new member to be baptized if they desire, but would also recognize their previous baptism. We're such a clever denomination.

We are working on a new confession, combining the best of the Westminster and London Baptist. The tentative working title, given our locale in southeastern Virginia, is the Second Smithfield Bapterian Confession of 2017. (There is no first, it's just the "Second" makes it sound as if we have, after convening some sort of Biblical Council on the Bapterian Faith, thoughtfully corrected the first round of error.) Furthermore, Smithfield sounds English (as in from England) which gives the document an air of dignity. And it also provides us with the opportunity for corporate sponsorship from the largest producer of cured meats in the world.

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