What this Believer’s-Baptist Believer’s-Communion Pastor Has in Common with Infant-Baptizing Infant-Communion Pastor Robert Rayburn

Posted: February 4, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Baptism, Communion/Lord's Supper, The Mysterious World of American Evangelicalism, Uncategorized
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Robert Rayburn states at his Church’s website:

“We do not practice paedocommunion here at Faith Presbyterian. We get as close to it as we can, the rules of our church being what they are, but a profession of faith is still required in the PCA for participation at the Lord’s Table. So, we take professions of faith much sooner than used to be the norm; and, happily, many, many other PCA churches are doing the same. And that is alright. If it takes some years, as it will, to convince the church that the practice of many centuries is in error, so be it. Our little children, having come to the table at five years of age or so, will not remember a time when they did not come, of a Lord’s Day, to eat the bread and drink the wine that Jesus Christ their Savior has provided for them by his body and blood. And in its own mysterious way, that Supper will, by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, do its work in nourishing their faith in Jesus Christ.”

The irony in all of this is that I serve a “baptist” Church where we would be willing to baptize someone as young as 5. In fact, my daughter was recently baptized at the age of 5. She is a full communicant member of Christ’s Church and entitled to the Supper as a believing member of His Body. While Kira is still my daughter and I have a huge role in nurturing her faith, as do all Covenant parents towards their children, we gather as fellow believers in one household on the Lord’s Day. Yes, there are many household(S) gathered, and yes, God speaks to the Church in respect to our gender and roles, but we receive the Supper as ONE Body. This is why all believers should be served the same portion and in the same manner.

Anyhow, Kira (my daughter) receives the Supper because she herself is a believing Covenant member. She does not receive it because she is born to Covenant parents…she herself is a member who is also accountable to the elders in our Church. I, as her father, am not allowed to use my own discretion from Supper to Supper on whether she is worthy. I can’t unilaterally withhold the elements from her. I would have to bring any concerns I have before the elders. So Kira is still in the jurisdiction of the home, under my care, but she is also individually accountable to the elders as a believing member.

Anyhow, there is some irony in that our kids can potentially be communed as early as the children in Robert Rayburn’s Church. Of greater irony is the fact that children can potentially become baptized communicant members in our “baptist” Church earlier than in most all “Reformed” Churches. It is somewhat comical that I find myself telling paedo-communion folks who visit our Church that there wait in our fellowship would be shorter than in the local “Reformed” churches (go figure), with the exception of one local CREC body. We’re closer to paedo-communion at age 5 than some of the Reformed bodies that are closer to 15 for full communicant status.

I’ll shelf this entry under the category, “The Mysterious World of American Evangelicalism”. I think it fits there 🙂

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Comments
  1. joelmartin says:

    Folks practicing infant baptism should also practice padeo-communion. It’s only logical. My friend Luke has a site devoted to the issue:

    http://saintluke.wordpress.com/paedocommunion/

    • Joel,
      Here is what I have in common with Reformed Paedo-baptizing bodies:

      – I agree with the classic Reformed “2 step” initiation process that requires profession of faith for full communicant status. I disagree with paedo-baptism and think they cause more confusion by declaring the infant to be a “Covenant” member, but not entitled to the Covenant meal. They should either become baptists or give the young ones the meal.

      – I agree with the paedo-baptizing, paedo-communion bodies in that if they truly believe the infant to be a full covenant member, who does have faith, then baptism and the meal should be extended with both hands.

      As for baptists, they must consistently view children totally on the “outside” until they profess faith, which attests to regeneration and justification…however Baptists have intuitively view their children as being somewhat “in”. They teach them to pray, sing songs, and affirm that God is listening to them (which would require the priestly mediatorial work of Christ). Furthermore, most “baptist” parents tell their children that Jesus loves them in a objective fashion, not emphasizing the contingency of faith…they usually emphasize the contingency when they are a bit older.

      Anyhow, every tradition has differing initiation processes and the Church has traditionally required faith for full communicant status (this could be debated, I realize). Even the Catholics wait until age 7 before a child can receive the Eucharist. So you can see that I like the classical “2 step” process in some regards, and yet feel a kinship with the paedo-baptists, paedo-communion crowd because we both believe that a a baptized person is part of the body and thus entitled to the Supper. Of course we degree on the subjects of baptism, but we are agreed that it is hard to conceive of baptized individuals who were not giving the bread which partly symbolizes that they are part of the “One Body” that baptism attests to.

      I am no ordinary baptist…I feel the tensions in this debate and care very much about nurturing our children in the faith. Whatever camp we fall in, I do celebrate the rigor in which parents train and nurture their children. That is the common ground I appeal to in the discharge of my ministry in the church in which I serve.

  2. Well I saw your brief reply and had a reply to that. Of course, everything is redacted and not as exhaustive as I’d like. I also have writing that I will eventually get out that represented my defense of “young” baptism within a baptistic church. This was somewhat in defense of my daughter’s baptism at age 5. Another girl aged 6 was also baptized with her. Vern Poyhtress has authored a couple articles that were helpful in formulating my position, where he basically advocates younger baptism within baptistic churches.

    Mark Dever, a prominent baptist, defends waiting until adulthood, noting that this was a practice of the baptistic Puritans, but I just can’t minister with a clean conscience by telling children over and over that Jesus is for them, while at the same time holding in clenched fist the 2 sacraments. “Jesus is for you, but not the waters and not the sacred meal, until you are old and so prove that you really are a believer”.

    The irony is that some of these baptists are concerned that FV is confusing our children and teaching salvation by works, while I would humbly suggest that it is rigid baptists who prolong baptism and communion that are teaching their children that they must “prove” their faith in a satisfactory manner. It isn’t enough to have active faith, one must have a track record of proven faith. How does this teach our children that the waters are entered into and the meal is received as GRACIOUS extensions of His mercy in Christ to all who would simply receive in faith?

    When I speak of delayed baptism, I am only speaking of cases where the child joyfully believes, but is forced to wait as much as 5-10 years before they can be admitted tot he waters and table.

  3. joelmartin says:

    I’m not a fan of Dever. We have a friend who went to our AMiA church – she was raised Preby and baptized as a baby. She dated a guy from Dever’s church. They got married and went there. Dever’s church made her get re-baptized. That really irks me.

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