28 Feb., 2020
On Our Stay Among “Believer Baptizers”
We have enjoyed our fellowship and our membership in a church here in Ohio which baptizes only those who “believe” (confessing their faith) and excludes the children of those believers from baptism until such time as they “feel” saved and affirm the faith in which they were trained. It is the way of Baptists, Pentecostals, and many other “evangelical” churches which historically reject the practice of baptizing children (infants in the normal course of child-rearing). And it is strange to think of the meaning of Baptism – new life , new world, new associates, transformation from sin-ridden to imbuement with the Spirit of God – and think of it as a realm denied the children of those living in this New Life. They must come to an awareness before they may participate fully in the blessings – the mysteries, the sacraments which God has provided for His people, the Church.
The idea of a Covenant, per “this promise is for you and your children,” is rejected in favor of an individualistic rather than family/covenant view of discipleship and the means of rearing children of church members as true fellow members of the Church.
The “covenant view,” briefly by contrast, assumes the promise that God gives believers – i.e. that they rear their children not in vain, not with out hope and confidence that He keeps them and saves them. A promise of old to “you and your children.” (One might suppose if such were not the case that it might be better to avoid the risk of hell for a child in the offing and remain childless – off him! lest he risk bad choices and the everlasting terrors of hell. Yes, abortion makes some – mildly warped – sense from that angle.)
The occasion for our joining a church where children are not baptized was simple. There was no other church in town that would accept us as members. True, indeed. But that is another sad travesty among the many manifestations of our apostate, anti-Christ society. A curiosity indeed, but not surprising in context. A society which tolerates the butchering of children for four decades might reasonably grow cold to those “radicals” who would blow the damned death camps up.
It has been a good stay. The fellowship of God’s people is always refreshing, nourishing, joyful and essential. The Spirit among us giving us the joy of salvation and the company with whom we share that hope in time and space is “clutch” – as the latest popular expression has it.
But to “maturity” – as Pastor Dale regular invokes our attention and to which he exhorts us. How, then? What is it?
It is the development of true familial bonds among church members. Love among “the brethren.”
How else but intentional time spent with “one another”? But how with 200 people does one spend personal time?
One doesn’t with all 200 (or 300 or 400 or 500) people! One spends time with a SMALL GROUP (from among the larger local church which may gather for its Sunday worship) and develops those essential, authentic bonds with those “twelve” – as per a certain Biblical model. Quite a hint. Get small to get real. Get small to get strong. Get into homes. That is where hospitality is learned and experienced.
Get in order. Put leaders in place of small, disciplined groups and let those leaders consult with one another under the elders. (Indeed, it is elders who must be among the primary leaders of such groups.)