Children and Church

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by rlvaughn, Dec 17, 2001.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>...the children are the church, don't know where that unscriptural idea came from, but children are very [much] the church.
    karen<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I pulled this from our "santa" discussion as a "jumping off place" for a discussion of the relationship of children and church. I think that in general children come into churches much earlier in progressive churches as opposed to primitivistic churches, and probably earlier in "Arminian" churches as opposed to "Calvinistic" churches. Whether or not this general observation is really true, what do you think about the relationship of children and church?

    1. What biblical basis is there for children coming into churches at very young ages?
    2. If you use believers' church and believers' baptism as a basis, why did not the apostolic church seem to have any significant outreach to young children?
    3. If children are church members on a equal footing with all other members, how do feel about their equal vote in church business to mature adult members?
    4. How much actual difference is there between baptizing 3 and 4 years olds who can parrot the right answers as prompted by parents (or pastors), and baptizing infants whose parents have faith for them?
    5. Why has there been a trend among Baptist churches in America to baptize children at younger and younger ages? (forefathers unfaithful? us unscriptural? children smarter now?)
     
  2. Chris Temple

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    1. What biblical basis is there for children coming into churches at very young ages?

    Children are children of church members - in the covenant family but not individually church members.

    2. If you use believers' church and believers' baptism as a basis, why did not the apostolic church seem to have any significant outreach to young children?

    This is an isue about infant/child salvation. Apparently Christ and the apostles did not feel child evangelism was necessary (although child discipline and training was commanded; i.e., raise them up as believers. ;) )

    3. If children are church members on a equal footing with all other members, how do feel about their equal vote in church business to mature adult members?

    My church bylaws state that one must be 18 to be a member.

    4. How much actual difference is there between baptizing 3 and 4 years olds who can parrot the right answers as prompted by parents (or pastors), and baptizing infants whose parents have faith for them?

    None.

    5. Why has there been a trend among Baptist churches in America to baptize children at younger and younger ages? (forefathers unfaithful? us unscriptural? children smarter now?)

    Because most Baptist churches function amid bad doctrine - say a prayer, "ask Jesus in your heart" and - BAM - your saved.

    Repentance from a godless life is rarely preached in most churches as a necessary component of salvation. :eek:

    [ December 17, 2001: Message edited by: Chris Temple ]
     
  3. Aaron

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    Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not." It is my opinion that children aren't always able to verbally express what it is they're thinking, and those who are taught at young ages about God, His remedy for sin, and the judgement that awaits those who do not come to Jesus, will come to Jesus with the terms they have been taught. Call it parroting all you want. Christ's command is clear. "Forbid them NOT."
     
  4. Timotheus

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    Hey Bro. Rlvaughn, you are not trying to play the devil's advocate here now would you? ;)

    Now we know that Jesus held the children in high estieme, and asked His disciples to be like them in character, nature, and dependability. Nevertheless both the OT and the NT is full with proper child rearing commandments and examples for parents to follow. So it follows that children have to be raised up first in the fear of the Lord before they can take active and integral part in the body of Christ (the church). But children are members of that body (although not active and independent, not card carrying members), but they are members through their parents until they can fully understand what is required of them and take their constructive place in the church.

    Now why would any church baptize infants is beyond my scope of understanding, as I consider the Bible. It probably has to do something with the fear of the parents that if the child gets old he/she may stray away from The Way, and they want to ensure that their offspring is being baptized. They forget about the nurturing, the dicipling, the teaching phase but they jump ahead and complete the top of the line item first.

    [ December 17, 2001: Message edited by: Timotheus ]
     
  5. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aaron:
    Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not."...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Feel free to show where Jesus did anything beyond bless these children, and also where the church of the New Testament days understood His words here in the light you use them.
     
  6. Aaron

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    1. How does one come to Christ?

    2. Is it different for children than for adults?

    3. Does Christ bless those who are not of the household of faith?

    4. And who made us the judges of a child's conscience?

    Not only does Christ instruct us to suffer them, but He places a prohibition on our prevention of them doing so. He also tells us that we must become like one of them, not that they must become like one of us.

    [ December 18, 2001: Message edited by: Aaron ]
     
  7. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Timotheus:
    Now why would any church baptize infants is beyond my scope of understanding, as I consider the Bible. It probably has to do something with the fear of the parents that if the child gets old he/she may stray away from The Way, and they want to ensure that their offspring is being baptized. They forget about the nurturing, the dicipling, the teaching phase but they jump ahead and complete the top of the line item first.

    [ December 17, 2001: Message edited by: Timotheus ]
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This may be the reason for some (like Roman Catholics) but for Bible believing paedobaptists it extends from consistent covenant theology (I, being a Reformed Baptist, believe in incosistent covenant theology ;) )

    The Presbyterian believes that parents and children are people of the covenant promise, and the sign of the covenant is baptism, which supercedes circumcision. Baptism brings one into the covenant family, but does not save, just as Israel was the covenant people but all were not believers.

    Most Baptist churches practice covenant baptism of children, without water - they call it baby dedication :eek:
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chris Temple:
    1. What biblical basis is there for children coming into churches at very young ages?

    Children are children of church members - in the covenant family but not individually church members.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This is the problem I have -- where is the NT church related to anything about a "covenant family"?? I simply do not see it. A child can and should attend church; they should be taught. When one is able to understand salvation, they should be called on to be saved. When they have shown a proper understanding, they should be baptized. There is no single age where everyone reaches this point. It is different for some than others. I think churches ought ot have a children's baptism class which takes places over a number of weeks and teaches these things. After all, that is the Great Commission.

    BTW, Chris, I like your admission that you are an inconsistent covenant theologian. [​IMG]
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    First - I will answer your questions and request you do the kindness of answering mine (those in the first post and the request to show that Jesus did anything besides bless those children and to show where the New Testament church ever understood 'allow them to come and don't forbid them' as a command to evangelize small children). Second - I find it interesting that those who defend small children in the church go to the same scriptures as the paedobaptists.
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aaron:
    1. How does one come to Christ?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>No man comes to Christ except the Father draw him, John 6:44.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>2. Is it different for children than for adults?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>It is the same for everyone. But the burden of proof is on you to show Biblical examples of the drawing of children.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>3. Does Christ bless those who are not of the household of faith?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Of course. Try Matthew 5:43-48, for example. Would you suggest that everyone on whom Jesus laid His hands (as recorded in the gospels) was of the household of faith?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>4. And who made us the judges of a child's conscience?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>This is not about judging a child's conscience. It is about searching the scriptures to see whether these things (young children church members) are so. Yet there is a sense in which those who would covenant together in church relationship must "judge" one another, or else the concept of a believer's church is absolutely ridiculous.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Not only does Christ instruct us to suffer them, but He places a prohibition on our prevention of them doing so. He also tells us that we must become like one of them, not that they must become like one of us.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> But He does say, at the most, allow them, do not forbid them, and not talk them into professing Christ and joining the church. One last question - do you believe the account of Matt. 19 (Mark 10 & Luke 18) is actually about little kids getting saved and not what the text says, that the parents were bringing them for Jesus to lay His hands on them? Were they coming by faith, repenting and trusting Him as their Saviour, seeking baptism and a home in the church? As I see it, the issue is not JUST can they be saved, but ALSO are they consciously able to commit to a covenant church relationship?

    [ December 18, 2001: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  10. Aaron

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    1. What biblical basis is there for children coming into churches at very young ages?

    The Scriptures don't specify an age limit. Acts 2:39 says the promise is to "your children (TEKNON: meaning child).

    Paul would beseech us as TEKNION, little children, Gal. 4:19, not as a HUIOS, son.


    2. If you use believers' church and believers' baptism as a basis, why did not the apostolic church seem to have any significant outreach to young children?

    This cannot be answered satisfactorily in 25 words or less, but there was no need for one. When the head of the house was converted, his whole house was converted. The head recognized his duty to raise his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

    1 Cor. 7:14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

    As a youth minister I stated publicly and believed that my ministry was actually to the parents of the youth.

    3. If children are church members on a equal footing with all other members, how do feel about their equal vote in church business to mature adult members?

    Like you say, maturity is a consideration. The approval of baptism is not made on the consideration of maturity, but on relationship. And though the child may be a son, yet he differs nothing from a servant until the time appointed by the father. Church membership is about relationship. Voting and leadership is about maturity and character.

    4. How much actual difference is there between baptizing 3 and 4 years olds who can parrot the right answers as prompted by parents (or pastors), and baptizing infants whose parents have faith for them?

    Much in every way. One comes because he has been taught that is the right thing to do, which is a valid reason. We stand by faith, not by sight.


    5. Why has there been a trend among Baptist churches in America to baptize children at younger and younger ages? (forefathers unfaithful? us unscriptural? children smarter now?)

    I have not noticed such a trend.

    [ December 18, 2001: Message edited by: Aaron ]
     
  11. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aaron:
    The Scriptures don't specify an age limit.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I completely agree. So far your evidence for small children (you seem not to differ with my use of 3 to 4 years, am I correct?) in the church as members is based on "suffer the little children", I Cor. 7:14, "the promise is unto you and your children", and the household baptisms. Am I presenting you fairly? Do you know you have presented exactly the same arguments as the paedobaptists? Now that in itself does not necessarily prove you are wrong, but it surely makes me uneasy! ;) You still have to show that those of young age have been or can be "converted", which I understand you are attempting to do with the next point.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>When the head of the house was converted, his whole house was converted. The head recognized his duty to raise his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 1 Cor. 7:14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>What?? What do you mean, when the head of the house was converted, his whole house was converted? Are you just referring to the fact that there were occasions where entire households were converted? Or are you implying that the conversion of the head of the house somehow includes the entire household? The first - I agree. The second is paedobaptism in full bloom! Your use of I Cor. 7:14 tends to make me think this is what you mean. BUT if you are using the first sense for your reasoning, you are still under the same burden as the paedobaptist - to show those to whom you are referring are part of the household. I am wondering, also, under this scheme presented, would all evangelizing of children be limited to "through the parents"?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Like you say, maturity is a consideration. The approval of baptism is not made on the consideration of maturity, but on relationship. And though the child may be a son, yet he differs nothing from a servant until the time appointed by the father. Church membership is about relationship. Voting and leadership is about maturity and character.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>It seems that to consistently hold such a position one must believe either that some should be baptized but not allowed to become church members, or some should be church members but not allowed to vote. From what teaching, precept, or example would you defend such a position?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>One comes because he has been taught that is the right thing to do, which is a valid reason. We stand by faith, not by sight.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I believe that many of these children DO come because they have been taught that it is the right thing to do and their little hearts are just as simple and sincere as they can be. BUT I do not agree that these children have any real understanding of what they are doing. Joining because it is the right thing to do is not Baptist, Anabaptist, nor Bible doctrine. Church membership is a conscious commitment to covenant relationship.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>5. Why has there been a trend among Baptist churches in America to baptize children at younger and younger ages? I have not noticed such a trend. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE> I'm sure you are a little younger than I. When I was young there were no small children joining the church, but some were joining at younger ages than when my father was a child. This is merely anecdotal evidence, but there is also some research in this area. Some mention of this can be found in Southern Baptist writings (e.g., The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists). This has been documented among them because they keep records of baptisms by age. It has crept to lower and lower ages.
     
  12. Joy

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    I mentioned this in the Santa Claus thread as well- It is imperative that Christians bring their children up in the admonition of the Lord, because children believe what they are taught to believe. This teaching not only happens when you bring them to church or read them a Bible story, it also encompasses every single aspect of the home life. (Deut. 6)

    In Proverbs, when it says train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it, it is not just a command, it is a statement of fact. What you teach your child, (and everything we do is teaching them something, good or bad) he will believe for life. That is a pretty powerful statement, because it leaves no room for excuses when a child strays.

    If you slack off on teaching your youngest children to obey, they won't obey the most important command in the Word- believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Proverbs 23:12-14, 22:6, Deut. 6:6-9 Col. 3:21, Eph 6:4, Acts 16:31

    That's not covenant theology, it's just plain hard work! ;)
     
  13. Dr. Bob

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    Clear age distinction in the Greek that is often translated "child". Greek "brephos" is an unborn child or a nursing child.

    If custom holds (and we depend on non-biblical sources) a child was not weaned until 4-5 years old! A little different than today.

    Then Greek "paideon" or little child is used. This is more generic and can refer to any small child (age 2-5).

    Finally "teknon" for child - usually, but not always a child pre-bar/bat mitzvah (pre puberty).

    When speaking figuratively of Christians as "little children", John always employed the last - he never implied a "covenant" or special familial relationship for babies, etc. These "teknon" were in talmud/torah school (age 5-12) and were learning the rudiments of Judaism.

    We have lots of young, middle-aged, and old "teknon" in our churches today, who are still just learning the basic A-B-C's.
     
  14. Aaron

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    So far your evidence for small children (you seem not to differ with my use of 3 to 4 years, am I correct?) in the church as members is based on "suffer the little children", I Cor. 7:14, "the promise is unto you and your children", and the household baptisms. Am I presenting you fairly? Do you know you have presented exactly the same arguments as the paedobaptists?

    Yes, and they make some very good points, but you aren't talking about infants. You're talking about "very" young children.


    What?? What do you mean, when the head of the house was converted, his whole house was converted?

    I said it couldn't be answered satisfactorily ;) . What I mean is, that though there may have been those who do not believe in the household, they were not suffered to maintain their pagan practices, but were all subject to Christian catechism and discipline. And I only mentioned that as a suggested reason you don't find a "children's" ministry in the Scriptures as we understand children's ministries today (or youth ministry for that matter.)


    It seems that to consistently hold such a position one must believe either that some should be baptized but not allowed to become church members, or some should be church members but not allowed to vote. From what teaching, precept, or example would you defend such a position?

    Well, women are members of Christ but were not allowed to vote until recently, lest they "usurp the authority of the man." And children, who are under the authority of their fathers would certainly not be suffered to cast a vote in opposition to them. I quoted Galatians 4:1-2, "But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all; but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father." I don't agree with your premise that all members of a church on on equal footing with respect to government. No, I don't believe in a hierarchy, I don't believe women and children may usurp the authority of their husbands and fathers in the home or in the church.

    But I am beginning to see that we differ somewhat on the meaning and efficacy of baptism. I do not see it as an endowment of voting rights. I think that is an entirely different issue.


    I believe that many of these children DO come because they have been taught that it is the right thing to do and their little hearts are just as simple and sincere as they can be. BUT I do not agree that these children have any real understanding of what they are doing. Joining because it is the right thing to do is not Baptist, Anabaptist, nor Bible doctrine. Church membership is a conscious commitment to covenant relationship.

    And what is one required to confess to be saved? He is to confess with his mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in his heart that God hath raised him from the dead. Paul says very plainly, "thou shalt be saved." Baptism is for believers, not Oxford dons and theologians. Children have an incredible capacity to believe. You merely have to tell a child that Jesus was raised from the dead and he will believe it! It is only we adults that have a tough time believing.

    But I'm glad Jesus has not put the burden of determining whether a child has the right amount of understanding or not on my shoulders, and has said "forbid him not!" If, in the future, he looks back on his childhood experience with doubt, what is there to prevent his being re-baptized?


    I'm sure you are a little younger than I. When I was young there were no small children joining the church, but some were joining at younger ages than when my father was a child. This is merely anecdotal evidence, but there is also some research in this area. Some mention of this can be found in Southern Baptist writings (e.g., The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists). This has been documented among them because they keep records of baptisms by age. It has crept to lower and lower ages.

    Then I am certain it is because we are not teaching about it correctly. The SBC is not getting better. It's a sinking ship.

    What validates an individual's faith is the object of his faith, not his level of understanding. That is a work, and we are not saved by works.

    A distinction needs to be made at this point between mere mental apprehension and an understanding which is by faith. We're told by the author of Hebrews that "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." An astronomer will be able to say a great deal more about the physical universe than a member of a primitive tribe in the rainforests of South America. In fact, the Indian may even have a fallacious impression of the heavens altogether, but the unction that turns the astronomer's thoughts to the Creator when he observes the heliocentricity of the solar systems, or plots the courses of comets, or otherwise ponders vast cellestial displays billions of lightyears away is the very same unction that raises the Amazon's thoughts to the Creator when he see's the sun, moon and stars revolving around and inexplicably suspended only a few thousand feet above a flat earth. That unction is faith, and the act of faith, that of believing that the things which are seen were made, is the same act despite the different levels of apprehension. The astronomers more detailed observations brings him no closer to the Creator if not mixed with faith, and the South American Indian's fallacious impressions keeps him no farther away.

    And so it is with baptism. Yes, adults will be able to "parrot" the preacher a lot better than children, but if the object of that child's faith is Jesus, then everything else is accounted for through Christ's substitutionary atonement. Remember, Christ is that child's substitute, and He understands for that child.

    At least, that's my opinion.

    [ December 19, 2001: Message edited by: Aaron ]
     
  15. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aaron:
    Yes, and they make some very good points, but you aren't talking about infants. You're talking about "very" young children.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> So, then I believe that you are agreeing that 3 or 4 year olds may have saving faith. As to the verses, we have touched the edges of "suffer the little children" a few times, but I don't think you actually attempted to show in context these children were coming to Christ for salvation. I Cor. 7:14 deals with the benefit of relationship to a believing parent, but has nothing to do bringing the child to salvation or even new covenant relationship (even the unbelieving spouse has benefits). In Acts 2, "the promise is unto you and unto your children" deals with the perpetuity and extent of the promise, not the age at which a person may receive it. The household baptisms prove that whoever was in the household and believed was baptized. To use this as proof that 3 year olds can believe and were baptized begs the question.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>...What I mean is, that though there may have been those who do not believe in the household, they were not suffered to maintain their pagan practices, but were all subject to Christian catechism and discipline. And I only mentioned that as a suggested reason you don't find a "children's" ministry in the Scriptures as we understand children's ministries today (or youth ministry for that matter.)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I'm not sure I follow you on the first part of this. I understand the principle of a Christian household in which the children must live by the parents' rules. But if there were 3 or 4 year olds in these households capable of believing, they must do so for themselves. There is no proxy faith. I would explain the lack of "childrens" and "youth" ministries in this fashion: first, the appeal for a response to the gospel is only made to those capable of comprehending it, and second, the "ministry" of training children is placed in the household and not the church.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Well, women are members of Christ but were not allowed to vote until recently, lest they "usurp the authority of the man." And children, who are under the authority of their fathers would certainly not be suffered to cast a vote in opposition to them. I quoted Galatians 4:1-2, "But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all; but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father." I don't agree with your premise that all members of a church on on equal footing with respect to government.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>The scriptural references that indicate decisions made by the church body reveal a "whole body" decision (e.g. Acts 1; 6; 15). In Gal. 4:1,2 I see Paul applying a cultural truth to teach a spiritual truth, but I don't see that it adds anything to your point. That may be my fault, not yours.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>No, I don't believe in a hierarchy, I don't believe women and children may usurp the authority of their husbands and fathers in the home or in the church.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Totally agreed. But a domineering wife or unruly children, though not allowed to vote in church, may still "control" the vote of the husband/father. I don't see voting as a usurping of authority, and the only scriptures that I understand would apply incidate that decisions were made by the whole church (following spiritual leadership).

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>But I am beginning to see that we differ somewhat on the meaning and efficacy of baptism. I do not see it as an endowment of voting rights. I think that is an entirely different issue.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I think that is an overstatement. I doubt we differ substantially on the meaning and efficacy of baptism. I believe that baptism is the immersion of a believer symbolically and voluntarily identifying them with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. I believe it is necessary to and precedes church membership, but do not believe it makes one a church member. I believe a person is "fellowshipped" into the church. What I don't see is a church receiving a member into their covenant relationship and then excluding them from the priveleges of the church, one of which would be the decision making process.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>And what is one required to confess to be saved? He is to confess with his mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in his heart that God hath raised him from the dead. Paul says very plainly, "thou shalt be saved." Baptism is for believers, not Oxford dons and theologians. Children have an incredible capacity to believe. You merely have to tell a child that Jesus was raised from the dead and he will believe it! It is only we adults that have a tough time believing.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>We may part company here. I believe that God reveals Himself through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the preached Word, and that we not only "believe" but must also repent. "Repent ye, and believe the gospel". Paul preached, "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Children have an incredible capacity to believe, and I have now doubt of the sincerity of their belief. I "believed" in Jesus when I was a small child, but I was not converted, nor was it what I believing is saving faith.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>But I'm glad Jesus has not put the burden of determining whether a child has the right amount of understanding or not on my shoulders, and has said "forbid him not!" If, in the future, he looks back on his childhood experience with doubt, what is there to prevent his being re-baptized? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I'm not sure whether you hold a view of salvation of "just accept Jesus into your heart", or perhaps a modified Calvinism, or even full-blown Calvinism. But it seems under any scenario, caution would be the best approach. If they really are saved, the church that does not encourage them to be baptized and join the church is surely not taking away their salvation. But if you accept the easy-believism viewpoint and they are not saved, you are trying to assure them they have something they do not, and may thusly seal their eternal damnation (because of retaining confidence in something they were told happened to them). If Calvinism and they are truly regenerated, then all we are doing is delaying the baptism and church membership until they can voluntarily enter into covenant. If they cannot tell something of what God has done for them, how can the church receive them on their profession? Here we may have wide divergence of practice, because we require anyone coming for membership to relate their experience before the church. Whether child or adult, we do not allow "proxy professions" (i.e., the preacher, parent, spouse, etc. telling the church they have been saved). We are not forbidding anyone from coming to Christ, merely only receiving them into covenanted church relationship once they have told us how they came to Christ.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Then I am certain it is because we are not teaching about it correctly. The SBC is not getting better. It's a sinking ship. What validates an individual's faith is the object of his faith, not his level of understanding. That is a work, and we are not saved by works. A distinction needs to be made at this point between mere mental apprehension and an understanding which is by faith. We're told by the author of Hebrews that "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    In my opinion, one of the reasons the SBC is a "sinking ship" is that their evangelistic methods have for years consistently added unbelievers to the church (some of whom were added as 3 & 4 year olds). They are the ones who have statistics that show that they have gradually baptized children at younger and younger ages, and they are the ones you say are a "sinking ship". I'm not sure how this helps your argument. ;) I'm glad you made the distinction between mental apprehension and an understanding by faith, because I kind of thought the mental apprehension aspect was where you were coming from. I think changing faith to mere mental assent is one of the great heresies in the church. But the doctrines of priesthood of the believer, soul freedom, believers' baptism, and believers' church requires some type of understanding in order for a voluntary response. Maybe this will illustrate what I am talking about - I have known a "boy" (he is probably about 40) in a church for a number of years. He has Down's syndrome. As far as I am able to tell, he has a belief in Christ. He attends church every Sunday and participates to the extent of his ability. He is probably the happiest person at the church. Whatever he knows about Christ, God knows. And he could profess belief in Christ as well as any 4 year old I know. Should he be baptized and join the church? I don't think so. Would it hurt anything? Probably not. Would it help anything? No. To me this argument about children in the church is not just about whether or not God has done any internal work in the heart, but whether it can be professed so that there may continue to be a "believers' church".

    Because of circumstances, gotta go ahead and post this, though somewhat scattered and unfinished. I'll try later to respond in a little more thought out manner.

    [ February 18, 2002: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  16. Karen

    Karen
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aaron:
    ..........
    Well, women are members of Christ but were not allowed to vote until recently, lest they "usurp the authority of the man." And children, who are under the authority of their fathers would certainly not be suffered to cast a vote in opposition to them.....No, I don't believe in a hierarchy, I don't believe women and children may usurp the authority of their husbands and fathers in the home or in the church.......
    [ December 19, 2001: Message edited by: Aaron ]
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Am I reading this correctly that the two of you are in agreement that wives and/or women in general should not have "voting rights" in church?

    Karen
     
  17. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Am I reading this correctly that the two of you are in agreement that wives and/or women in general should not have "voting rights" in church?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    No, at least I am not in that agreement. Aaron will have to speak for himself. I think the biblical record of times when the church made a decision (such as selecting Matthias, the deacons of Acts 6, and the council of Acts 15) indicates they were "whole church" decisions.
     
  18. Aaron

    Aaron
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    rl,

    I'm not going to argue the point any longer. I have my opinions and you have yours. Where I would exercise liberality is in the case of children because of the verses I quoted. Where I would exercise caution is with adults.

    There are no verses saying "Forbid them not" concerning adults.

    To me, from how I read the Bible, to refuse baptism to someone is to say he isn't saved. Pure and simple. It is not up to us to judge the consciences of innocent children or mentally handicapped individuals. The understanding is with the spirit (1 Cor. 2.10,11,12) which is not subject to physical development. We know that John the Baptist received the Spirit while yet in Elisabeth's womb and rejoiced at the sound of Mary's greeting. Do you think John the infant understood with his mind? Therefore all who profess faith in Christ--especially little children--are entitled to receive baptism, and we would be derelict, if not disobedient to Christ's direct command, to forbid them.

    But there are those who say that children are "in Christ" until some "age of accountability." If they are indeed "in Christ" then by virtue of that relationship they are partakers of his death, burial and resurrection and are eminent candidates for baptism. For to withold the symbol from one to whom it eminently pertains is a sacrilege.

    That's my opinion. [​IMG]

    I won't add any more to this thread--not because I'm angry or anything--simply because I don't think we'll get anywhere and this is not a point of contention with me. But I will read any responses you have.

    I'm working on a response to Smoke eater in the music forum.
     
  19. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aaron:
    ...Where I would exercise liberality is in the case of children because of the verses I quoted. Where I would exercise caution is with adults. There are no verses saying "Forbid them not" concerning adults.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I believe caution should be exercised in both cases. If God has worked a work in someone's heart, erring by refusing them baptism and church membership will not take that away. But if he has not, erring by baptizing and taking them into the church may give them a false premise for hope. So I would rather err in the direction I feel is safest. John the Baptist, to whom you refer below, refused baptism to a number of ADULTS. He refused no children, because NONE came to him. As far as I can tell from reading the New Testament, no children ever came to anyone for baptism (unless you can prove it from the household baptism cases). I understand your wish to not add any more to this thread. Many times a point can be labored to death, with no apparent progress. But if you change your mind - you have used the "suffer...forbid them not" quotation a number of times, and I would like to know if you really think these little children were coming to Jesus on their own and if they were coming by saving faith? (that is, in the case recorded in Matthew, Mark & Luke)

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>To me, from how I read the Bible, to refuse baptism to someone is to say he isn't saved. Pure and simple. It is not up to us to judge the consciences of innocent children or mentally handicapped individuals. The understanding is with the spirit (1 Cor. 2.10,11,12) which is not subject to physical development. We know that John the Baptist received the Spirit while yet in Elisabeth's womb and rejoiced at the sound of Mary's greeting. Do you think John the infant understood with his mind? Therefore all who profess faith in Christ--especially little children--are entitled to receive baptism, and we would be derelict, if not disobedient to Christ's direct command, to forbid them.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>There is a certain amount of truth in your statement "to refuse baptism to someone is to say he isn't saved." I would refine my belief on this to say that "to refuse baptism to someone is to say he has provided neither testimony nor fruit that he is saved" or something to that effect. I do not think this is a matter of judging consciences, as I see it, it is a matter of judging profession. If someone professes they are saved by works, I cannot judge what is in their heart, but, on the basis of that profession, I must say "if you are saved by works, then you are not saved." Now I understand that in the cases to which you would probably refer concerning 3 or 4 year olds, they are probably saying "I believe Jesus" or something like that. Every case of children this small and even older (up to 7 or 8), when I've asked about their experience, they could tell nothing of it. If it is real, they will understand it later. If not, as with so many in their late teens today, they will have absolutely no memory of it with the possible exception of what they've been told. I will also add the fact that so many of these early professors make a second profession later in life should caution us that we are doing something wrong. I do agree that salvation is in some sense beneath the conscious and "understood in the spirit". But to profess or relate it to others must be done to some degree in human understanding. John the Baptist is a great example. If John were regenerated at the moment he received the Spirit in his mother's womb (or whatever happened to him at that point) - how did we know it? Because God told us. How do we know someone is saved today? Does God come down and tell us? No, we know it by that person's profession and no other way. (Caution: by this I do not mean to rule out the witness of the Spirit to us; but we would probably agree that is somewhat subjective since someone is always blaming some untruth on the Spirit revealing it to them) I must say that your "all who profess faith in Christ are entitled to receive baptism" is way too broad for me. Almost every "christian" cult in the country professes "faith in Christ".

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>But there are those who say that children are "in Christ" until some "age of accountability." If they are indeed "in Christ" then by virtue of that relationship they are partakers of his death, burial and resurrection and are eminent candidates for baptism. For to withold the symbol from one to whom it eminently pertains is a sacrilege.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>You leave this somewhat open on the "age of accountability" issue, as if you do not actually believe this. BUT if you apply your argument to this form of doctrine, you will actually be BAPTIZING INFANTS "to whom it eminently pertains". If infants are "in Christ" and baptism is for all those who are in Christ, to not do so would be sacrilege.

    [ December 20, 2001: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  20. Aaron

    Aaron
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    But if you change your mind - you have used the "suffer...forbid them not" quotation a number of times, and I would like to know if you really think these little children were coming to Jesus on their own and if they were coming by saving faith? (that is, in the case recorded in Matthew, Mark & Luke)

    Well, I said I wouldn't, but you brought up some good points, so I thought I would punctuate them.

    Yes, in the account parents are bringing their infants. One of the first things that strike me about Christ's statement is what He didn't say. He didn't say "Suffer the parents to bring their suckling babes to me." He said suffer the little children. To me there is a principle involved here that extends beyond the literal event, much like Paul's quoting of the law about muzzling the ox as pertaining to a minister's right to receive maintenance, the commandments about murder and adultery extending to anger and lust, and the commandment not to eat the forbidden fruit to mean not to even touch it.

    He said suffer the little children, and to me "suffer" means to be patient, to give place to, and to give the benefit of the doubt to little children. I would much rather (in this issue) err on the side of liberality.

    But that's me. ;)


    I would refine my belief on this to say that "to refuse baptism to someone is to say he has provided neither testimony nor fruit that he is saved" or something to that effect. I do not think this is a matter of judging consciences, as I see it, it is a matter of judging profession.

    And that is an excellent point, because here you do not say that children are incapable of exercising faith, (nowhere did you say that, but I hear many Baptists say that) but they are incapable of providing "fruits meet for repentance." And that is a valid argument, and one I would use if I was arguing your side. Maintaining the integrity of the ordinance is certainly our duty as stewards of the mysteries of God.


    You leave this somewhat open on the "age of accountability" issue, as if you do not actually believe this. BUT if you apply your argument to this form of doctrine, you will actually be BAPTIZING INFANTS "to whom it eminently pertains". If infants are "in Christ" and baptism is for all those who are in Christ, to not do so would be sacrilege.

    Well, this gets into another issue, but just to clear up a misunderstanding I'll say that you're right. If I believed that children were everywhere born "in Christ," then I would indeed be baptizing infants. But I'm not baptizing infants.

    Anyway. It's late. Enjoyed the discussion.
     

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