Sent: Monday, May 31, 2004 7:04
Subject: PRESBYTERIAN BROTHER
A PRESBYTERIAN BROTHER WRITES,
COMMENTS ON SCHAEFER, INFANT BAPTISM [05/31/04]
Baptists, not all Presbyterians see things alike. So here is what a Presbyterian
on my list has written, explaining some differences.
In a message dated
5/31/2004 3:57:33 PM Central Daylight Time, a Presbyterian Brother
I continue to read and profit from your
articles on the subject of the public invitation.
I have already
written to you that I agree with almost everything you have to say. The one
exception to that is some of your statements about "Paedobaptists." I do
not wish to enter into "debate" with you about this centuries old difference
of opinion among good Christian brethren. You are a good Baptist who is
committed to the same historic Baptist Confession as Spurgeon, and for this I
give great praise and thanks to God. I, therefore, understand and
RESPECT your view and attitude towards peadobaptism and its proponents. But I
also understand and highly respect your attitude and desire for accuracy in
reporting and representing correctly the views of those with whom you disagree
and vigorously debate. It is in the light of this that I now
Some of the things you attribute to all peadobaptists are simply
not true of many. In fact, they are not true of ANY of the paedobaptists
that I have known and worked with over the past fifty years of ministry.
Without going into a detailed list of examples of your tendency to do this, I
will just cite this one from your last article regarding somebody named,
Excerpt from your quote of Michael: "...J.I. Packer, John
Stott and Francis Schaefer...."
Bob: I notice that all of those named are PEDOBAPTISTS.
Pedobaptists teach that they received regeneration in infancy, thus would have
no use for invitations. Once again, this demonstrates that a great influence
upon those who oppose invitations are the Pedobaptists. Spurgeon was opposed
to their "invitations" to baptize babies.
It is with your statement,
"Pedobaptists teach that they received regeneration in infancy, thus would
have no use for invitations,"
that I have a problem.
You may be
right about Packer and Stott. I haven't studied their writings sufficiently to
know exactly what they do "teach" on the subject. However, I do know,
and can say from first hand knowledge and experience, that you are misstating
the view and practice of Francis Schaefer.
When I was
still a relatively new Christian, he preached in our church, and he gave a
clear and reasoned invitation to believe on and receive Jesus Christ as
Lord and Savior, and to those who were doing that, or who had believed but had
never publicly acknowledged it before, to come forward and publicly confess
their faith in Him now.
A short time later when I was a
student at the Bible Presbyterian College [of which denomination Schaefer was
a minister at that time] I attended a special series of lectures he gave when
the subject of baptism came up. He made it very clear that contrary to
the "Baptismal Regeneration" taught and believed by Romanists, Campbellites,
and some Anglicans and Lutherans, Presbyterians loyal to the teachings of the
Bible as confessed in the Westminster Confession of Faith &Catechisms do
not believe that baptism saves anybody including infants. He then
read the relevant statement from the WCF, which reads exactly the same as the
London Baptist Confession of 1689:
"The Baptist Confession of Faith
"With slight revisions by C. H. Spurgeon The Baptist
Confession of Faith (1689)
"Chapter 10: Effectual
"3. Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved
by Christ through the Spirit, Who works when, where, and how He pleases. So
also are all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the
ministry of the Word."
In the booklet Schaefer wrote on the subject,
under the heading of the questions asked of the parents presenting the
child for baptism, with the answers to be taken as "vows" by the parents, one
of the questions read something like this; "Do you understand that this
baptism does NOT save the child, and that he must come to a personal faith in
the Lord Jesus Christ and confess his faith in Christ on his own
This pretty much sums up what every pedobaptist I have
ever known, including Francis Shaefer, believes and teaches on the
subject. I hope that this will be helpful to you, and that in the future
you will not misrepresent many of us by putting us all in the same category as
those who teach "Baptismal Regeneration." And I do acknowledge that some
"Deformed" Presbyterians may have fallen into that "damnable heresy" as they
have forsaken most, if not all, of the ESSENTIAL doctrines of the Historic
Christian Faith. Sincerely, [Signed]
appreciate this good brother's email and his revealing that Francis Schaefer
practiced giving an invitation. I never met Schaefer, never heard him
preach, and read only sparsely in his writings, so am not very well acquainted
with his works. However, I learned directly from him via correspondence that he
was not, in his mature years, as enthusiastic for the value of Spurgeon's
sermons as I anticipated he might be. He declined our invitation to write a
jacket article for a volume of Spurgeon's sermon set, and this was a
disappointment to us. Needless to say, my image of Schaefer was not upgraded. I
thought, "Perhaps that explains why I could never get interested in
As for infant baptism, I have tried to carefully avoid
alleging that Presbyterians teach "baptismal regeneration" of infants in
the proper sense of the expression -- that baptism is a means of
regeneration. I am perfectly willing for the Presbyterian groups to state
their own views on that matter. I know there are differing groups of them, as
there are Baptists, so the views may not be precisely the same.
Berkhof, the theologian heralded by Iain Murray at The Banner of
Truth, one of the primary sources of "Anti-Public Invitationalism," it is
taught that infants are in fact "regenerated" in infancy (pages 471, 472)
and baptism is at least "a means of grace," to "strengthen," for
an "increase in grace," and it is called "a sign and seal of
the covenant of grace" (page 641).
Berkhof says that "Reformed
theologians" call attention to:
"(1) It is possible to proceed on the
assumption (not the certain knowledge) that children offered for baptism are
regenerated and are therefore in possession of the semen fidei (the
seed of faith); and to hold that God through baptism in some mystical
way, which we do not understand, strengthens this seed of faith in the
child," etc. (pages 641, 642).
That does not specifically say that
baptism itself regenerates, but it does seem to put a very close
connection between baptism and infant regeneration, however it supposedly
At any rate, as a Baptist, we do not share an interest
about infants in relation to baptism. -- Bob L. Ross