So, here is an update on yesterday’s blog. At tea time the girls and I sat at the table and discussed the whole issue of whether they can and should take communion. In response to questioning both girls reiterated their conversion experience as having “repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus”. When I asked what they thought was the significance of the Lord’s Supper, they both pretty much replied, “it is something we do to remember the sacrifice of Jesus. The bread is to remember his body broken on the cross for us and the Ribena is a symbol of his blood poured out for us.” When I asked if taking it made you a Christian or if something magical happened, they both laughed, called me “silly” and said that Jesus asked us to do it as a symbol. Finally, I asked them what they thought it meant to “examine yourselves” before taking the elements. I was, admittedly, surprised by the firm response. Keziah (10): “it means that if I’ve argued with Liddie (her sister) and still have bitterness in my heart toward her, I ought not to take it unless I have sought forgiveness from God and from her beforehand”. Lydia (9) gave an almost identical answer with the caveat: “I would repent to God first and if the person I had problems with was at school I would sort it out first thing on Monday.” I have to be honest, Miriam and I looked at one another and I can not find any reason why I should not allow them to participate in communion.

The issue quickly moved onto baptism. To my mind, if they are old enough and ready to participate in the Lord’s Supper then surely they are able to be baptised as confessing believers? I asked them what they though of this logic. Both felt that they would like to do a small course about it, discuss it and pray further about it before making a firm decision. So, there you go. I will let you know how we get on.

Now, I do realise that this opens up a whole can of worms for many of my friends across the evangelical denominational spectrum, from total indifference to moral outrage. I respect those that stand firm in their convictions on these issues. I just can’t quite bring myself to accept those that mandate a particular age and/or practice concerning these questions. Baptism is a command. That I believe. And it appears to be a command that immediately follows confession and not with a 5 or 6 year hiatus in between to see what happens (nor with a 4 week course either I hasten to admit!). As with all things, there are nuanced depths to these discussions and so, for the sake of fairness and balance, I have included a list of resources below which try to cover a breadth of thought from my own baptistic perspective. My apologies if I have left any out. Again, I would be delighted if anybody would like to share any gems or articles they have found on these important topics.

Bethlehem Baptist have written a document here outlining their position. They advocate waiting.

Heritage Baptist takes a more open view and would baptise at any age. They have a statement here.

Capitol Hill Baptist advocate waiting until they are grown up. Read their position here.

John MacArthur and grace Church talk about waiting until a child is at least 12 years old. Read their position here.

For an interesting article on Baptism and how far we should separate from our Presbyterian brothers (and sisters), click on this link. There are also some helpful resources at the bottom of this article.

For clarity:

1. I would not baptise anybody who has not turned from their sins and confessed Christ as Lord and saviour, irrespective of age.

2. I would want to hear a clear testimony of ongoing spiritual growth, rather than necessitate a theological treatise. Having a dynamic relationship with God is far more important than how much information they know!

3. I don’t think there is a special age for any of this. If a person feels convicted to obey Christ’s command to be baptised in response to their salvation, then I have a duty to baptise them or I myself am hindering them.

 

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Hey brother,
    I have been debating both of these issues internally lately. I greatly appreciate your Gospel-centered focus through it all. I also like how you tied the issue of communion to the issue of baptism.
    I was wondering what you thought of the connection between communion and church discipline. Some of my own thoughts:
    1) Does the church have an obligation to “fence” the table, or withhold communion from people? (This can take the form of a brief explanation before the passing of the elements)
    2) If the church does, then what is the criteria for someone to take communion? Does someone simply need to be a professing Christian (open)? Do they need to be a member of a church of like faith and practice in good standing (close)? Or do they need to be a member of your church (closed)?
    3) If either of the latter two options are chosen, then, in our baptistic circles, they must be baptized.
    4) Hence, your post today. So, they ought to be baptized before they take communion, if we practice close or closed communion.
    5) Baptism is the tricky one for me. With baptism, they become a member of the church. If they are a member, than the church has an obligation to oversee their soul, including church discipline.
    6) As many have pointed out before, how do we discipline a child, as a church, who is still in the home. If it ever got to the point of excommunication, how do we handle that situation with the parents? We should be clear with the parents what the expectations are for their children and their responsibility as church members. This may even include discipline for unrepentant sin. The parents ought to be informed of this if they are in the church.
    7) I think you have hit all the major issues: Genuine repentance, growth, fruit-bearing, and a genuine understanding of the Gospel.

    At the end of the day, I probably lean towards MacArthur. I hate to put an age on it. God can convert whoever he wants to. My daughter professed Christ at the age of 6, and after waiting a while, after her continued interest, and our examination, she was baptized. Sometimes I wonder if that was the right thing to do. I have learned so much since then. But, from what I can tell, she is still showing genuine signs of repentance and loves Jesus. She just turned 11 Sunday.

    Sorry for the long post/random thoughts. Keep up the good work brother!

  2. Peter says:

    I was really encouraged to hear about my grandaughters and the way they responded to your questions. I remember at 9 being very sure that Jesus was my Saviour and I think sometimes as adults we find it hard to see things through the eyes of a child. Let’s praise Him that he works in the hearts of people of all ages.

    One thing I remember is that when the Philippian jailer was saved that he and all his household were baptised could it mean that this meant children? We can’t be specific but I would take that as read.

    God bless,

    Peter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s