My Big Fat Roman Baptism

Well, not mine exactly; just continuing a theme.  The hidden point of my last “silly” post, was to lead into a discussion of the Reformed consensus that Roman Catholic baptisms should be accepted.

I’m no historian, but I’ve heard that precedent for leniency in accepting baptisms of questionable provenance dates back to Augustine, who had to make a ruling concerning a significant number of Christians who had been baptized by heretics-to-be.  Once baptizers are cut out off from the church, what does that say about the legitimacy of the baptisms they had conducted?

Certainly the same question must have arisen in the Reformation, as literally all of the new true church had been baptized by a church that, at the council of Trent, officially established itself as no Church of Christ, but a synagogue of Satan, headed by that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition.  Yet the Reformation confessionalized Augustine’s tradition of leniency in WCF 27.3, “neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it” — this is the only justification I have ever heard for accepting the baptisms of converts from Roman Catholicism today.

But it seems to me that a most consistent approach would be to put ample weight also on WCF 27.4; although the legitimacy of a baptism may not depend on the piety or intention of the individual that administers it, it does depend on the legitimacy of his ordination — the trueness of the church which ordains him.

So was the historical acceptance of RC baptisms an inconsistency which we should now rectify (which would be consistent with barring membership and communion to visiting credobaptists)?  Or was it an instance of Solomonic wisdom — a recognition that the cost of keeping the baby Reformed church in one piece, was to not throw out the bathwater of RC baptisms (how’s that for a mixed metaphor!)?

If the latter, then perhaps our parallel task of practical wisdom (in our current context of rampant credobaptism) is to subjugate purity of doctrine in this area, for the sake of unity.

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74 Responses

  1. You have to demonstrate where God decisively cut off the Roman Church. Trent doesn’t cut it when you look at all the heresy and idolatry the Old Covenant Church took up. They weren’t cut off until 70 AD. Until then, all those who partook of the outward signs of Old Covenant membership were part of God’s covenant people. If they rejected Christ, they were prodigal sons, but they were sons none the less and thus due a *stricter damnation*. Rube, quit being so soft of Rome.

  2. So are you saying that the phrase “no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan” is referring to something other than RC (Anabaptists, maybe?), or are you saying you take exception to WCF 25.5?

    My main point, however, is that if we can accept RC baptisms, then it should be even easier for us to accept RB baptiterianism.

  3. We accept Roman baptisms because it’s not the church that baptizes, it’s Christ who baptizes through the agency of the church. The Roman baptism is Trinitarian, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, according to the great commission in Matt 28.

    If someone somehow comes to faith in Christ through the preaching of a Roman Catholic priest (as far fetched as that may be), we don’t say that their faith is illegitimate.

    In fact, we’d be quite wrong to say that since the Roman Church is a false church, that therefore there are no true Christians in it. There are true Christians in it. I’m sure of it. But that’s because God is merciful.

    But perhaps you’d object. Perhaps you’d say that preaching is one thing, baptism is another. How can you say, you might ask, that God used their Roman Catholic baptism to bring them to faith in Christ? To that I would answer only this: here they are, joining a true church and professing faith in Christ. They came to faith in Christ SOMEHOW, and since God has promised to use baptism to that end, just as he has promised to use the preaching of the Word, then the only conclusion we can legitimately come to is that the Roman baptism is acceptable.

    And there are pastoral concerns here as well. I grew up Pentecostal, not believing in justification by faith alone, nor even knowing that there was such a thing. And yet, here I am, a reformed Christian, even going to seminary. I insist that as bad as the teaching was in my Pentecostal church, I nonetheless did have some measure of hope in Christ in some sense. Murky and confused, yes, but real nonetheless.

    Now what sense would it make for me to come all the way to the reformed church, only to have my pastor say that the entire journey I’ve taken is illegitimate? Yes, all that preaching was flawed and those sacraments, all the worship was wrong. But God used it to bring me to where I am, however slowly.

    That doesn’t mean that the Pentecostal church is a true church. It isn’t. It’s a false church. But they are still baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, and they’re still reading from the Bible sometimes. God can and will use these things, and when he does, we shouldn’t say that they are illegitimate.

  4. That doesn’t mean that the Pentecostal church is a true church. It isn’t. It’s a false church

    Sigh…you never cease to disappoint, Echo. The Reformed Presbyterian Church (of your particular variation) is the true church and all others are the false church. Really classy. Well at least you’ve got a pair.

    Billy Graham – False Church?
    Jack Hayford – False Church?
    Jim Eliot – False Church?
    AB Simpson – False Church?
    John Piper – False Church?
    AW Tozer – False Church?

    No, Einstein, these people are all part of the glorious church that Jesus paid for with His blood. Furthermore, they are your brothers in Christ, who you are instructed to treat “better than yourself” according to Philippians 2.

    A mark of a cult is as soon as they claim that their little sub-group of Christianity is the only true church. Wow.

    Well, enjoy your “true church” my friend.

  5. Well, I am not too sure about all of the “Pentecostal church is a false church” crap, but I am wondering how an infant can “come to faith” in any church and therefore be in possession of a true baptism.

  6. Surprise, surprise. I am wondering how believers-only baptism, which celebrates individual choice, can truly signify God’s unconditional, monergistic election?

  7. And we’re still waiting for a clear, New Testament command to baptize infants, that doesn’t hinge on “arguments from silence”. Good luck with that.

    “Repent and be baptized every one of you…”

  8. A mark of a cult is as soon as they claim that their little sub-group of Christianity is the only true church. Wow.

    Albino, I wouldn’t get too hung up on this “true church” language if I were you. If it helps, you can substitute for the word “false”, the word “deficient”. Just like you find our church deficient in the areas of credobaptism, use of gifts, intensity of worship, maybe missions, etc., we have a historical standard definition that the marks of a “true church” are 1) proper preaching of the gospel, 2) right administration of the sacraments, and 3) church discipline.

    But note that Echo readily accepts baptisms you perform as valid; therefore by WCF 27.4, Echo affirms that you are “a minister of the Word lawfully ordained” (and has said as much elsewhere).

    So when you see that Echo has typed “false church”, what you hear is “synagogue of Satan“, but that’s not what he means.

    Which brings us back to my original question; isn’t it obvious that “no true churches, but synagogues of Satan” is referring to RC, and that priests in the synagogue of Satan are not “ministers of the word lawfully ordained”, and thus any baptisms they perform are no more valid than a Mormon baptism?

  9. I feel like the mafia guy who said, “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.”

    Another question: Where in the New Testament do you read that only a “minister of the Gospel lawfully ordained” can perform a baptism? Isn’t it more Biblical to say that any believer can baptize any other believer? We usually have the pastor do the baptizing, but I don’t find any Biblical directive to that effect.

  10. […] Comments Albino Hayford on My Big Fat Roman BaptismRubeRad on My Big Fat Roman BaptismAlbino Hayford on My Big Fat Roman BaptismRubeRad on My […]

  11. What is really scary is the incessant referencing of the “WCF” as if it was Scripture. I feel like I am talking to a Mormon who is constantly quoting the Book of Mormon instead of the Bible.

    Good grief, can an argument be made without a (WCF 27) etc, tacked on to give it authority?

    Well, I guess in the case of infant Baptism the reference would have to be the Apocrypha and the Council of Trent. (2 Macc/COT).

    And you call us a “false Church”!?

    (I believe the next move will be to remove or block me from the BLOG).

  12. Don’t be scared of WCF; it is merely a summary index of scripture, like this one, except a lot longer and more comprehensive. Many more words, many more scripture references.

    And you can rest assured we won’t be referencing the Council of Trent around here, since that was a declaration that my church is a false church!

  13. WCF 25.5 makes no mention of the Roman Church. But 25.6 states explicitly that the Roman Church was at least at the time part of the true Church (though you have to look closely).

  14. Thanks, Davie, I knew the constant, kee-jerk WCF referencing reminded me of something, too. Bingo. Let the Bible speak for itself.

  15. Al, yes! Let’s get rid of all the historic Church creeds and confessions! And while we’re at it, let’s put an end to that constant, knee-jerk practice of preaching the Word! Where do ministers get off giving their congregants *their interpretation* of scripture? Let the Bible speak for itself! Let’s just have everyone in the pews read and discuss from the scriptures alone. :)

  16. Hold on there cowboy — are the words of the bible not good enough for you? What’s up with this “discussion” thing?

  17. Al,

    If the Bible speaking for itself is the battle-cry, where does the Bible speak of baby dedications? You still haven’t answered that one; you just keep making references to parents making requests and inner senses of piety, etc.

    See, everyone makes references to something other than the Bible for their rituals. I’ll cast my lot with giants who have gone before who actually mined Scripture than dear Mrs. Smith who mines her heart.

  18. WCF 25.5 makes no mention of the Roman Church. But 25.6 states explicitly that the Roman Church was at least at the time part of the true Church (though you have to look closely).

    You mean “the Pope of Rome…exalts himself, in the church“? You make it sound as if the Pope is a renegade, and nobody else is exalting “that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, …against Christ and all that is called God.” Let no one deceive you in any way; all that join in exalting the Pope against Christ (that would be the whole RC Church) has therefore degenerated into no Church of Christ, but a “Church” against Christ — a synagogue of Satan.

  19. where does the Bible speak of baby dedications? You still haven’t answered that one

    And if you’re going to hang it all on Hannah, you’re going to have to face the fact that her dedication wasn’t just a prayer; she actually gave her baby away, to be adopted by Eli. Maybe we can have a Brave New World where the church takes all the kids away from the parents, and raises them so the parents can focus on themselves (many churches are already like that on Sunday morning — and we know it’s not good to be a Sunday-morning only Christian!)

  20. Please excuse me while I give myself over to talk that, and I quote,

    sounds like and usually is, talk of Bible School/Seminary weenies who are bored…’they search the Scriptures’…etc

    Regarding

    she actually gave her baby away, to be adopted by Eli.

    Some translations yield “I have lent him to the Lord” and with proper warrant for doing so (from the Hebrew heesh’eel’tee’hu – qal Sh’al to ask or borrow; hiph: to give or lend).
    Anyways, I thought the rules of the game were that only New Testament texts were applicable for the dispys. Or so they have led me to believe in these debates.
    Say what you will about BLs, but I will prolly be going to one in a month or so.

  21. BLs = “Baby Lendings”?

  22. And whether the word may translate as “give” or “dedicate” or “lend”, what actually happened is clear from the context; the lending was not temporary, but “as long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord”. After weaning, Samuel did not live with his family, but “dwelt forever” in the presence of the Lord (i.e. at the temple with Eli) in a separate city, and his mother saw him annually to give him bigger clothes each year. Sounds a lot like giving a child up for adoption, with limited visitation rights for the birth mother. It does not sound anything like a contemporary dry baptism.

  23. Again, we don’t see baby baptism anywhere in the New Testament, so we don’t do it. We stick with immediate baptism of believers, following their repentance and confession of faith in Christ.

    Baby dedication is simply the family bringing their new baby before the church family and asking for God’s blessing upon their little one (dedicating him/her to the Lord). This is NOT in any way a baptism. It is simply a prayer…that’s it.

    Hannah was mentioned, not because we slavishly follow her every action in that instance, but because of her heart’s desire to dedicate her child to the Lord.

    As you know, the Scripture I always read is the one that references Jesus taking the children in His arms and blessing them. That’s all we do.

    We do not consider the dedication of babies to the Lord anything near water baptism or what you would call a sacrament of the church.

    Quick, race over to the WCF and see what the next answer is.

    You guys remind me of the old dispensationalists who think that Scofield’s notes are actually part of the inspired Scriptures. Let the Word of God stand alone.

    Like your boy, Spurgeon so famously said, “I defend the Scripture as I would defend a lion; I simply let him out of his cage.”

  24. Al,

    Here is what you are saying, it seems to me:

    We don’t see infant baptism in NT, therefore we don’t do it.

    We don’t see baby dedication in the NT, but we do it anyway.

    If you are the Bible people, what gives?

  25. Al,

    What do you do with those parents who don’t dedicate? Are they to be assumed uninterested in raising their children in the fear of God? On what grounds can those who refrain presume their children a part of the believing community?

    This is the sort of question I always have about things like altar calls or re-dedication exercises:

    It must be that those who don’t come forward, but are already believers, have no sin or can otherwise say, “Thanks, but I’m good.”

  26. Al says,

    “Again, we don’t see baby baptism anywhere in the New Testament, so we don’t do it. “

    Neither do we see the children of believers being taken out from God’s covenant people. Why do you do that?

  27. Those who don’t want to do a baby dedication are totally free to not participate. We see no hard and fast Biblical directive there. As to altar calls, nothing spooky there either. Usually after a sermon, we open the altar area for those who want to pray, and sometimes we put our hand on their shoulder and add our prayer to theirs. I’m sure you give people the opportunity to pray as well.

  28. Are you going to answer my question, Al? Do you see you are being inconsistent? You say, “We don’t see X anywhere in the New Testament, so we don’t do X.” X, of course, referring to infant baptism. But when X is “removing the children of God’s covenant children from the covenant”, you have no problem doing X in spite of the fact that, “We don’t see X anywhere in the New Testament.”

  29. all that join in exalting the Pope against Christ (that would be the whole RC Church)

    I reject that the whole RC Church exalts the Pope against Christ, just like I reject that protestants exalt the scriptures against Christ. But from an RC point of view, that is exactly what we do. We even teach our children to sing songs of praise to the B – I – B – L – E. Of course, we see the Bible as God’s revealed Word and exalt it only in the sense that it Jesus reveals to us.

    Anyway, your position makes WCF 25.6 absurd. The fact is that the Pope of Rome cannot exalt himself in the Church unless he is in the Church. Once again, you find yourself at odds with the Confession.

  30. Ron,
    Sprinkling drops of water on the head of an infant came from the Roman Catholic Church. Calvin should have kept on reforming that out, but, since he didn’t, a myriad of theological pretzels were created to legitimize it. I accept that you don’t see it that way.

  31. Al,

    I understand those who don’t want to dedicate are free not to do so.

    My question is this: if those who do are understood as those who want to dedicate their children to the Lord, then those who don’t must be understood as those who have no interest in raising their children in the fear of God.

    The point is that in your language you elevate this act of dedication to the level of ordained sacrament, then speak of it as if it is not binding, etc. What if someone doesn’t want to be baptized? My wife was reared Bible-church Fundie. She never thought being baptized was necessary, since nothing in her background taught that. It wasn’t until she met this rabble-rouser (me) who wanted to get baptized that she felt it was at all necessary.

    Re sprinkling being Roman Catholic, it is common that those who are heirs to the Radical Reformation would understand proper and mainstream Prostestants not to “go far enough.” But we have no problem with the term Catholic. In fact, I kind of like thinking of Protestant as Catholic 2.0. We kept the Trinity as well. Was that a bit too staid for you guys? I always liked Luther’s rendering of your tradition: “They have swallowed the Holy Spirit, feathers and all!”

  32. Al, all you have done make assertions and you are dodging my objection that you are being inconsistent. I’ll ask again (3rd time).

    Why do you remove children of Christians from the covenant? Where do we see this practice in the New Testament?

    If you are so certain that “sprinkling drops of water on the head of an infant came from the Roman Catholic Church,” and was not universally the Church’s baptismal practice long before the Bishop of Rome began to be received as the supreme authority over the whole Western Church, I am sure you will have no problem giving me the name of the person who “invented” this practice and what century he did so. Good luck with that.

    Further, the Roman Church argument fails anyway because guess what else we got from the Roman Church? The Canon. Have fun trying to prove that the 66 books you have in your Bible are the defined Word of God. The only basis we have for such an assertion is that those books were codified as such by the early ecclesiastical authority.

    Thus, I can use your baptism argument one more time to demonstrate how inconsistent you are:

    Again, we don’t see the reception of the 66 book canon of scripture anywhere in the New Testament, so we don’t do it.

  33. I meant to say “early ecclesiastical authority”, not “*the* early ecclesiastical authority.” For obvious reasons…

  34. I reject that the whole RC Church exalts the Pope against Christ

    You also reject that Calvin fundamentally disagreed with Rome on justification, so why should I credit your rejection?

    Anyway, your position makes WCF 25.6 absurd

    I’m glad to know you feel that way. If you did not find my interpretations absurd, I’d start to get worried.

  35. Rube,

    In an argument, when one rejects a premise of yours, and you still want to uphold your argument, you have to substantiate the rejected premise. So either, you accept that the argument is defeated (aka quit (again)), or you substantiate the premise. Good luck with that. :)

  36. I’m glad to know you feel that way.

    It has nothing to do with how I “feel”. It is just plain ol’ logic. How can the Pope exalt himself “in the Church” if he is not first “in the Church”? Next you are going to tell me that King Saul was not an Israelite.

  37. In an argument, when one rejects a premise of yours…

    Thanks for that tip. I’ll remember that next time you require refutation (note that “require refutation” is different from “are wrong”)

  38. Why would someone require refutation who was not wrong? I don’t get your point.

    Anyway, so you are dropping the 25.5 argument? You agree that the RC church is part of the Church? Or are you content to hold yet another view you cannot logically defend?

  39. People who require refutation are wrong. But not everybody who is wrong requires refutation. I am content for you to find my views illogical. More than content; as I said before, if you were to find me logical, I would start to get worried.

  40. Nice dodge, bro. But I didn’t ask if you were content with me finding your views illogical. I asked if you were going to substantiate your premise, ” the whole RC Church exalts the Pope against Christ” or drop the 25.5 argument in light of 25.6. If not, then I need to know how one can exalt himself in the Church when he is not in the Church. Can an amillennialist do her makeup in the car when she is not in a car? ;b

  41. Why should I waste my time expressing things that you are guaranteed to disagree with?

    Instead, I will refer you instead to the majority report on this issue, submitted to the 15th PCA GA:

    Recommendation:
    1. That the Assembly adopt the following recommendations with respect to Roman Catholic baptism:
    A. that the General Assembly counsel that the baptism of those churches that have so degenerated from the Gospel of Christ as to be no churches of Christ (cf., Westminster Confession of Faith, xxv, 5; e.g., Unitarian, Mormon, Roman Catholic) is not to be regarded as valid Christian baptism

    You can also find in that document, a reproduction of the same decision from 1845:

    …no rite administered by one who is not himself a duly ordained minister of the true Church of God visible, can be regarded as an ordinance of Christ, whatever be the name by which it is called, whatever the form employed in its administration. The so-called priest of the Romish communion are not ministers of Christ, for they are commissioned as agents of the papal hierarchy, which is not a Church of Christ, but the Man of Sin, apostate from the truth, the enemy of righteousness and of God. She has long lain under the curse of God, who has called his people to come out from her, that they be not partakers of her plagues.

  42. “…who has called his people to come out from her…”

    Hmm… someone is confused. Too bad that doesn’t even speak to the issue at hand, namely, what the confession says. But thanks for the link. At least that GA had the charity to allow the minority a response, even though that response was devastating. The Minority Report is much more historically substantiated, again, not that it matters.

    It is only a waste of time because you cannot logically defend your view of the confession on this point. If you could come up with a solid argument, I am sure you would put it here. Why not just admit that you cannot logically defend how the Pope can be *outside the Church* all the while exalting himself *inside the Church* but you believe it none the less?

    And there is absolutely no scriptural argument for your position. Just take a look at our post-exodus covenant fathers in the desert. Did they cease to be God’s people because they became idolatrous? What about Ezekiel 16? “You slaughtered *My* children and sacrificed them to idols…” How is it that God considered the children of a people so apostate *His* children, but you can’t consider a people His children because they have sola fide mixed up? We are justified by a Person, not by works, not even the work of theology.

  43. And I still await a response from Al to this comment, especially the question I asked him 3 times.

  44. It doesn’t disappoint me at all, actually. I am all too happy to leave the record with my challenges being left unanswered.

    When a heavyweight champion looks down at his opponent lying there motionless, and the ref holds said champion’s hand in the air, you don’t tell him to get used to disappointment. That’s what you tell the guy who was unable to answer the challenge (when he wakes up).

  45. I see you more as a wanna-be who keeps trying to set up a fight with the reigning champion, and holds press conferences calling the champion a chicken, but when no press shows up, the champ realizes that the chump is just desperate for publicity, so the wisest course of action is just to ignore him.

    “Many are wrong, but not all require refutation” = “Many are worse fighters than the champ, but the champ is not going to fight each and every chump”

  46. LOL whatever you say man. I can see you have your hands full here with many more important challengers.

  47. LOL, that’s funny. I remember using that as an excuse not to fight when I was in junior high. I said I didn’t want to get dirty. But really, I knew the guy was gonna kick my … Good one, Rube.

  48. Ron, I keep trying to keep this topic from drifting waaaay off the mark. If I answer your question, we are going to veer back into Calvinism again. I have been going round and round that tree for years and really have no desire to have at it again.

    I will give you a simple answer, but I’m not peeling back the whole Calvinism onion again.

    We don’t sprinkle drops of water on infants’ heads because we don’t find it in the New Testament. Jesus, however, did take children in His arms and bless them, so we are happy to do that if the parents want us to. We DO NOT believe it is Biblical to baptize someone who has not repented and confessed faith in Christ…”repent and be baptized every one of you…”

    When you get into this tar baby about “our kids being members of the covenant community”, you and me both know where that will lead. We will begin arguing about whether babies go to hell, the age of accountability, etc. Do we really want to do that?

    You don’t really believe that sprinkling drops of water on your infants’ head saves them, right? So let’s just let it go.

  49. Let me answer your last question first so we can end this back on track. I believe God alone saves, but He uses means. Your question is like asking if saying words to children saves them. No, it doesn’t. But God uses language as a means to get faith into the heart. He also uses water, bread, and wine.

    We don’t need to “drift” into Calvinism, Al. It’s not that complicated. The issue is that of necessary inference. Must everything be explicitly stated in scripture for us to believe it, or may inference be used to make conclusions about what God has said explicitly?

    Your “answer” isn’t one. It is merely a restatement of your previous argument, the one with the huge hole.

    You said you don’t do X because you don’t see X in the New Testament. But you do X all the time, only you do it selectively.

    Removing children from the covenant is only one example. If you don’t want to answer the covenant dilemma, that’s fine. How about the canonical one?

    I think we can both agree that you receive the 27 books of the New Testament as Holy Scripture. Where do you see these books received as Holy Scripture in the New Testament? You don’t. Then why do you do it? I thought if you don’t see it in the New Testament, you don’t do it? So “not seeing X’ in the New Testament is not sufficient grounds for “not doing X”.

    In order to be consistent, you have to either drop the “We don’t see X in the NT” argument against paedo baptism, or you have to admit that the 27 books of the New Testament are not necessarily Holy Scripture.

  50. Happy to see that you guys accept baptisms from other denominations. Now we’re making progress.

    As to the assertion that you must graduate from a seminary to preach the Gospel (uurgh…gurgle… vomiting in my mouth noises)…Um, not really…

    I’m not against training; I’m not against studying; I just find it incredibly arrogant to insist that all preachers graduate from seminary. Speaking for myself, I got a B.A. from a liberal arts Christian college, but learned worlds more about the ministry from actually doing the work of the ministry than all those classes combined. I think apprenticeship and discipleship is waaaay undervalued here. I had some profs in the Bible and Ministry departments that were HORRIBLY boring and would never make it in the ministry, so they got their doctorates, got tenured, and forced students to listen to them.

    What about D.L. Moody? Did he have a right to preach? Was he called to preach? I’m not against seminary, but I do believe it is overrated for preparing men to be successful pastors.

    Maybe this post of mine would apply here.

  51. I think it’s incredibly arrogant of YOU to say that you don’t need seminary training to properly interpret the Scriptures and stand before the people of God and claim to speak for God. You can’t even READ it in the original languages! Oh, maybe you can dabble with your Strong’s a little bit. But that only makes it worse.

    And here’s the proof of your lack of qualification.

    Echo: Albino, what does Romans 9 mean?

    Albino: I don’t know, and you’re arrogant if you think you do.

    Echo: So why did God give us Romans 9?

    Albino: You’re arrogant Echo. You don’t need seminary.

    Echo: You’re going to stand before God someday.

  52. Al, I think the same thing about doctors. 4 years undergrad, 4 years graduate studies, medical school, residency, all for what? So they can cut straight? Just give the brother a knife, what’s the big deal?

    Your position pretty much typifies the problem of revivalism in America. As the frontier expanded, there were less qualified ministers to fill the need. So you got folks like good ol’ Harry Ironside who went around “teaching” with nuttin’ butta’ Bible and an 8th grade education. Many revivalist ministers were basically illiterate, and it was their job to teach folks God’s Word. Needless to say, this gave way to all sorts of poor biblical scholarship which is basically why millennia old Church traditions like paedo-baptism fell out of practice. And dispensationalism would have never got its foothold if the American clergy had been studied up. This has hurt the Church in America. When you go around telling people “this world is not my home,” then they pretty much figure, to hell with it.

    And Al, did you miss my question about the canon? Or are you dodging that one too?

  53. You missed a lot of what I said in my post. Nobody is against learning and advancing in knowledge. I am not against seminaries per se, but I do not believe that they always do the best job at preparing men to be pastors. You are overlooking mentoring, discipleship, and learning from pastors themselves. As I said, more than a few of my profs in college would have been total failures in the ministry, because they had zero people skills, were boring, and couldn’t preach their way out of a paper bag.

    I do believe that seminary is overrated as a place to train men to be pastors.

    And, yes, I do believe it is arrogant to suggest that seminary is the only place a pastor can be properly trained.

    If you believe that God called you to study in seminary, you had better do it. Nobody is standing in your way. But don’t arrogantly presume that everyone must follow the same path.

  54. Al, I didn’t miss anything in your post. You, on the other hand, have avoided a number of direct questions I have submitted to you.

    Most seminaries have internship as part of the program, so the mentorship you mention is part of the degree.

    I never said you were against learning and advancing in knowledge. But it is clear that you think those things can come *after* one has taken office. But what about all the damage he does in office before those things come? And what if they never come?

  55. Ron,

    As you know, seminary is not the only path to the ministry. There are a myriad of quality Bible Colleges and Institutes that do a great job of preparing pastors for service. No one is suggesting that someone become a pastor with zero training. What we are disputing here, is your assertion that seminary is the ONLY path to the pastorate. I submit to you that it is overrated. You have your opinion, I have mine.

    Learning and advancing in knowledge come before, during, and while one is in the pastorate. OF COURSE, we continue to learn throughout our lives.

    I’m not dodging your canon observation. Yeah, the councils gave us the canon based on what was already self-evident in the canon itself. I cede your point that they were catholics. But, like Bruce’s retort on this blog, “There are catholics and there are catholics.”

    As to Echo’s condescending conversation with imaginary Albino….classy…very classy.

    As you know, Echo, I am not a Calvinist. So my view of Romans 9 will not line up with the view you have been spoon-fed at Westminster. I believe, as you know, that there exists natural tension between the Biblical truths of sovereign choice and man’s free will that is beyond our understanding. If you believe seminary will bring a complete and total understanding of the mind of God, good luck with that.

    To sum up:

    I am not against seminary education.
    I am not against studying and learning.
    I do not believe seminary is the only path to the ministry.
    I believe it is overrated in preparing men to be pastors.
    I believe that discipleship and mentoring by pastors actually doing the work of the ministry is of more value.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I have to actually do the work of the ministry today.

  56. I’m not dodging your canon observation. Yeah, the councils gave us the canon based on what was already self-evident in the canon itself. I cede your point that they were catholics.

    But the whole point was not that they were catholics, (everybody was “catholic” back then), but that you do in the case of the canon what you won’t do in the case of paedo baptism.

    Why do you receive the 27 book New Testament canon if you don’t see this being done in the New Testament? You do something you don’t see in the New Testament when you said your reason for not doing paedo baptism was that you don’t see it in the New Testament. Do you see the arbitrariness?

  57. Could someone tell me which seminary is qualified to qualify pastors?

    And who decides the qualifications that qualify the seminary.

    Would’t it all be better if we just used the qualifications found in the Scriptures?

    How does 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 sound?

    You see, your ecclesiatical paradigm requires you t come up with all sorts of institutional requirements to be what that paradigm defines a “pastor” or “preacher” to be.

    I dare say that most of the “elders/overseers” being Biblically qualified in Titus and Timothy would not have been able to read, speak, or write Hebrew…yet, they were “able to teach”.

    They were to “study to show themselves approved”, but I think it would be quite a leap, if not poor exegesis (in any language) that Paul was requiring what we today call “seminary”.

    This is one of the problems with the seminary “club”. Once you are in it you have to protect its viability and legitimacy by attacking all those not in the club.

    Simply put, its a Pharisee’s Club with a motto of: “By what authority do you say and do these things”.

  58. Hey Davie,

    Did you go to Bible College?

  59. Albino,

    I haven’t been spoon fed my view of Romans 9 from seminary. I’ve been spoon fed my view of Romans 9 from Romans 9. As opposed to your view which has been spoon fed to you, which leads you to stop listening to Romans 9.

    But here’s the problem. I’m glad you’re not against seminary. But you fundamentally don’t understand what the work of ministry actually is if you think you can do it properly without being able to read the Bible for yourself.

    That’s what seminary is all about! You are laboring under this crazy, get everything backwards notion about seminary that it’s a big cookie cutter designed to brainwash us. But the fact is, you’re the one who’s brainwashed, and seminary is where you learn to think for yourself, where you learn to wrestle with the text, where you learn to be mastered BY the text.

    You’ve got it all backwards. You don’t worry about what the Bible says, because worrying wouldn’t do you any good, since you can’t even read it anyway. But even if you could read it, you wouldn’t listen to what it says, because you’re brainwashed…

    I just realized that I’m completely wasting my time.

  60. Si…for about 3 semesters. Then I was mentored for 2.(I sat in some classes at Fuller, very interesting and gave me good ammo for arguments, but not too qualifying).

    I am not opposed to study and learning. In fact, I probably have one of the most diverse and extensive libraries of most on this blog.

    I am just saying that at the end of the day, what is biblically called “pastoring”, which is essentially “shepherding/eldership” requires a qualification that the bible lays out. No more and no less.

    When the biblical model od eldership is shifted into Preacher/Pastor/Orator, the the requirements change. I just do not that the Lord wanted it so complicated or difficult to qualify.

  61. I know this is a sensitive topic. If I had spent thousands of dollars on a seminary education, and then discovered that not only is it not the only path to the ministry, but in many cases overrated, I would be a little alarmed too, and may lash out like Echo.

    It’s ok, fellas. You’re just being good Presbyterians.

  62. Albino,

    No, I think that Echo has had an epiphany. He wrote: “I just realized I am wasting my time.”

    I believe he is going to drop out of seminary and get into real ministry helping real people with real problems. Maybe a single mom, an alcoholic, a kid trying to get out of gangs, etc.

    I am moved that he would listen to such humble vessels such as you and I. But, the Word of God is powerful!

  63. I will, I think, surprise some by weighing in here with an opinion that, strictly speaking, seminary is NOT required for ministry — in much the same way as a law degree is not required to practice law. To practice law, you just have to pass the bar. Most people can’t do it without a law degree. In the same way, to preach, you need to pass the ordination exam. Most people can’t pass an ordination exam without a seminary degree. In fact, my pastor, who found the Reformation while in “seminary”, might be considered not to have a seminary degree, or at least not a kosher one, since he went to Bethel. In fact, he didn’t make it through the ordination exam the first time around; they made him brush up on some stuff and come back in a few months.

    And I can think of at least one person who could pass an ordination exam without a seminary degree. He’s already an ordained elder, and he’s possibly the most well-read and learned person I know. All he would have to do is teach himself Greek and Hebrew (or take classes, either at seminary, or UCSD, or…), and he’d be a shoo-in.

    In fact, it’s the same in Al/Dbalc/Copp’s system; there is a concept of ordination, and in order to be ordained, basically you have to convince ordained people that you can do what they do, to what they consider an acceptable standard. And since that standard is lower, most people can meet that standard without a seminary education. The standard is lower because it is assumed that the butts in the pews can’t handle (or won’t tolerate) deep, scholarly exegesis from the pulpit, so what is most important is to be able to tell a good story, to be engaging, entertaining, and motivating. It’s the legacy of Finney.

  64. Sigh…you see you do not even hear or listen to what I am saying. I feel like Barth trying to talk to Brunner.

    I too must say “NEIN” to you all, leave you all to your incessant discussions on hyper-attenuated supralapsarianism, or infralapsarianism (if you prefer), take my pearls and go have a ham sandwich!

  65. I’m not sure what exactly you’re sighing and NEINING about — don’t you have “ordination” ceremonies where senior men of God lay hands on younger men and pray for them, and then declare them to be “ordained”? Surely you don’t do that for just anybody, but only ordainees that meet the standards of the ordainers?

  66. Sigh…you see you do not even hear or listen to what I am saying.

    If you’re saying you don’t need to go to seminary to be a social worker, I’d agree completely. Does that make you feel better?

  67. Haha Bruce!

  68. This discussion has become hugely unedifying all the way around. Let’s all just serve Jesus in our various capacities and arenas.

  69. You’re just being good Presbyterians.

    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

    For always speaking consistently as a good revivalist and summing this whole thing up in five words, Al wins.

    Deduct, like, 18,000 points from the resident Presbyterians for blaming a revivalist for behaving like one. I guess to be fair, take away about the same amount of points from Al when he tells the local Mormons they are not Christian; that’s acting like a good Presbyterian, not a good revivalist.

  70. Ouch! What he gives with one hand, he takes away with the other (to use a Zrimism)

  71. No, no, Rube, Al can keep his trophy. He just can’t feel good about it.

  72. […] Comments H&S: Images of C… on My Big Fat Roman BaptismRubeRad on Logos for Hoagies & S…jedpaschall on Logos for Hoagies […]

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