Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Growing unity among true evangelicals

There is a current movement towards more and more unity among evangelicals who hold to the historical authority of the Word of God and the doctrines of grace. This spring, there will be a conference called Together for the Gospel, which will feature leaders and pastors from different Christian traditions across the country that hold to a Biblical Gospel. Be sure to watch the videos for the conference!

Last week, CJ Mahaney, a reformed charismatic, was invited to preach at John McArthur's (who is a committed cessationist) church. Several years ago this would have been unthinkable. Read about it here.

Finally, just today Bethlehem Baptist (John Piper's church) put up an article on their website detailing their plan to expand church membership to allow believers who were baptized as infants. Here's the key section:
After more than three years of study and prayer and discussion of this issue, the Council of Elders believes that membership requirements at Bethlehem should move toward being roughly the same as the requirements for membership in the universal body of Christ. That is, we have come to the conclusion that it is seriously questionable to say to a person who gives good evidence of being a true Christian and who wants to join Bethlehem: you may not join.

This conclusion raises problems of consistency for our present Constitution and By-Laws and our present church Affirmation of Faith and Church Covenant. These documents hold up some less than essential beliefs that must be affirmed in order to be a member at Bethlehem. Thus the door to membership at Bethlehem at the present time is significantly narrower than the door to membership in the universal body of Christ. The elders believe this should be changed because of how serious it is to exclude in principle any truly born-again lover of Christ from membership in the local church.

The most obvious change this involves is allowing the possibility that a person may become a member who has not been baptized by immersion as a believer but who regards the baptismal ritual he received in infancy not as regenerating, but nevertheless (as with most Presbyterians) in such a way that it would violate his conscience to be baptized as a believer. The elders are proposing that under certain conditions such persons be admitted to full membership.
Read the rest here.

As a credo-baptist, I find this to be very encouraging news.

2 Comments:

Blogger finnegan* said...

Maybe you can elaborate on what a credo-baptist is? I'm also not sure as to why Presbyterians would violate their consciences by being baptized as a believer.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Geoff said...

A credo-baptist believes that Christ commands that only believers be baptized into the church. A paedo-baptist (or infant baptist) believes that the Bible commands all children from Christian families to be baptized into the church (the visible church, distinct from the invisible church made up of true Christians).

Many Presbyterians, being infant baptists, are convinced that their baptism as a baby was a legitimate fulfillment of God's command to be baptized, and would be violating their consciences if they were to deny that baptism and in order to be baptized again.

10:20 PM  

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