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I lost another Facebook friend to Presbyterianism!

Tennessee 009I get it, I get it! You’ve come to the knowledge of Reformed Theology, your young in the faith, you have been defending the gospel with fervor and zeal, but every time you run across a Paedo-baptist you hear this: “Your not really Reformed!” So under the guise of wanting to be fully Reformed and wanting to stand in the tradition of men like Calvin, Knox, Bucer, etc…., you jump head first into the deep end of Paedo-baptism, not even understanding the theology behind infant baptism.

I too cut my teeth on Reformed Theology under a Paedo-baptist. I came to the knowledge of Reformed Theology while listening to R. C. Sproul on the radio. At the time I was in a Charismatic church which held deeply to mysticism and emotionalism. The Charismatic theology of this church did not really have that much of a hold on me. I had already begun to be skeptical of this movement and had questioned much of its main tenets. All the emotionalism and hype, but no love for scripture. No expository preaching, only picking and choosing of texts of scripture which seemed to agree with the fanatical doctrines of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, Jr., and many others. (1)

No, charismatic doctrine did not particularly have a hold on me, but the dispensationalism of these type churches sure did. I carried my cherished Scofield Bible everywhere I went. Studying the doctrines of such men as: Hal Lindsey, Scofield, Walvoord, LaHaye, Blackstone, and my all time favorite minister Jack Van Impe. Yes, dispensationalism was the doctrine to live and die for. It was my pet peeve and is something I knew the in and outs of. I could hear the daily news and was able to recite scripture from memory to show how all the terrible things going on in society and the world, had been predicted thousands of years ago, right there in Holy writ. Little did I realize that what I was doing was not Biblical exegesis, but instead was ripping scripture apart by picking and choosing what seemed to fit the morning headlines. (2)

One of the problems with both of these systems is the fact that they have Arminianism as their door keeper. Arminianism stands with all man made systems. It is the glue which holds them all together. Is this an over exaggeration? I think not. Charismatic doctrine has man at the center and it is all about what God can do for me. It possesses no doctrines which teach that God owes us nothing and that it is our duty to give to God. Yes, we are to give to God true worship. The church service is not about us or what we are to receive. This is why so many of these type churches split down the middle. The congregants are not satisfied with anything because they are always seeking a new experience. (3)

Dispensationalism on the other hand possesses no Biblical unity. God has his separate plans: One for Israel and one for the Church. God is not working out one over-arching purpose, which purpose was to save a people for his name through his Son Jesus Christ, but instead is building on two plans. Yes, both of these systems are flawed and do not seek to rightly interpret scripture with Christ at the center. (4)

But back to my story:

Upon discovering the doctrines of grace I knew that they were true. Having had a born again experience, that could only have been called supernatural, I began to read scripture with new eyes. I saw that the acronym ‘TULIP’ was truly contained within scripture. I begin to read the giants of Church History and 2 years later called a local Presbyterian Church and made an appointment with the Pastor. When I arrived for the appointment, I began to question this Pastor concerning Reformed Theology. I wanted to know if what I had been learning concerning Reformed Theology were true? He affirmed that what I had been learning was in fact the Reformed tradition and that it was a system, not forced into scripture, but derived from scripture. This man possessed the titles of a learned man, seeing that Presbyterians require some formal education in order to be an elder, but after hearing me recite from Augustine, Calvin, Knox, and many others, he admitted that I had read more of the Reformation writings than he had. As I was leaving, he handed me a copy of The WCF and told me, “Now you must choose which ecclesiology is truly found in scripture.” In other words, is Presbyterianism truly the ecclesiology of scripture or is congregationalism truly present within scripture? (5)

After meeting with this elder I vacillated between Paedo-baptism and Credo-baptism. I set my anchor on the side of the Reformed Baptists, but after many debates with Presbyterians and not truly understanding the RB position, I moved to a Presbyterian position because I truly wanted to be considered Reformed. I was extremely happy. I now stood with Calvin (whom I loved reading and thought to be one of the greatest theologians of all times), and many others of the Reformation. I could read my WCF and have a warm feeling in my gut because I knew that men had died to recover the doctrines contained therein.

A year rocked on and though I was happy my conscience bothered me. All I kept hearing is, “Did you arrive at paedo-baptism through scripture?” Yes, I was happy, but why this nagging conscience? I have always, no matter what I believed at the moment, tried to derive my views from scripture. I constantly pointed charismatics to scripture, not emotionalism and not hype, but scripture. After a year, I stopped and asked myself, “Did you arrive at paedo-baptism because you wanted to be associated with certain men of the Reformation or because you actually studied scripture and found paedo-baptism contained therein?” I had to admit that the former was true. I did not derive my views of paedo-baptism from scripture, but instead held to this view because I wanted to be associated with Calvin. I wanted to be in that group which goes around hollering, “We are truly Reformed!” (6)

So a journey began. I put away paedo-baptism and told myself that I was not going to believe anything concerning baptism, unless I could find it contained within the Word of God itself. The more I studied, the more I became convinced that paedo-baptism is a man-made system. It is not in scripture. The entire system, like dispensationalism, is built on Old Testament principles. In order to hold to this system, the exegete must have a presuppositional bias before ever examining a text.

This past weekend I spent several hours debating with a teacher of a PCA church. One of my friends on Facebook announced that he had switched from a Reformed Baptists position to Presbyterianism. So I began to challenge him to think about the differences in the covenant theology of the two. He could not answer any of my objections and never made an attempt to do so. So another guy I am friends with, who is also a teacher in a PCA Church, stepped in and stated that he had this for him. This friend who had been a teacher of a PCA Church for more than 20 years, did not even realize that the WCF holds to a one substance under two administrations view of the covenants. I was told that I was misrepresenting PCA covenant theology, but as we neared the end of the debate and me showing him what the WCF teaches, he admitted that that is what he held to, even though he was arguing against it before I pulled his confession into the discussion. He finally tagged someone else to come in and try to help him debate me on this matter. Go figure! (7)

So what about my friend who switched to Presbyterianism? He still stands with Presbyterianism, even though he sat back and watched his learned teacher fail at explaining the system of paedo-baptist covenant theology. My objection from the get go was, “Why do you have to step in and help this fellow who switched views?” “Seems to me that he should not switch positions, unless he can articulate for himself, why Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology is wrong.” This is the crux of the matter, if a man does not know how to defend the position he has switched to, then maybe he should not hold said position.

The more I study Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology the more I am convinced that my position is true. It is still sad to see someone switch to paedo-baptism, without even knowing why.

So another friend dives into the deep end of paedo-baptism. I just hope he knows how to swim.

 


(1) I was also an elder of this church and began teaching against the fanatical doctrines of the head elder. I pointed this congregation to scripture and not experience.

(2) I stated that Jack Van Impe was my all time favorite teacher, but that was at that time. I have since gained a few other all time favorite teachers. Also a course in hermeneutics made me see the errors present within dispensationalism.

(3) I stated that Arminianism was one of the problems with Charismatic doctrines and Dispensationalism. I did not say that it was the only problem. I understand that there are some who call themselves Dispensational Calvinists, but the fact is, is that Reformed Theology and Dispensationalism are two opposing systems. One can only hold to both at their own peril.

(4) Not to mention that Dispensationalists also do the same thing that Charismatics do and that is they pick out certain scriptures which they believe teach their doctrines. They ignore the rest of the Bible.

(5) I stated that I had had a born again experience that was supernatural in character. So upon studying Reformed Theology and examining ‘Unconditional Election,’ I knew that Reformed Theology was true because I knew that God had intervened in my life and saved me. I was not seeking to be saved. So when I was quickened it was as if scales fell off my eyes and I began seeking Christ. But after I came to the knowledge of Reformed Theology, is was as if I had been born again, again. Some call this ‘Cage Stage Calvinism.’

(6) Paedo-baptists have a warped view of what truly Reformed means. They associate being truly Reformed with infant baptism, as if infant baptism is the ‘sine qua non’ of Reformed Theology. A Reformed Baptist is truly reformed. Matter of fact, he holds to semper reformanda or ‘always reforming,’ more than paedo-baptists do. I know many will object to the last statement, but they still hold to a view of baptism, which rejects the RPW and is not backed by scripture.

(7) Actually this teacher of a PCA Church was trying to show me a position on covenant theology similar to Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology. All I can do is shake my head at this. Holding to the WCF, but don’t even know what it confesses.

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