Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2005 10:39 PM
Subject: HERESY OF THE PRESBYTERIANS [08/03--2005]

I received a phone call today from a longtime Baptist minister friend in South Carolina. He said that several people in the area who believed the Doctrines of Grace but could not find local Baptist churches where these views were held had defaulted to unite with some Presbyterian churches. Now I can understand how someone who comes from a Pedobaptist background might "backslide" to the Presbyterians, but how could a Bible-believing Baptist do so?

While I recognize the fact that we have many Christian brethren in Pedobaptist communions and there are many of their preachers who hold forth a great deal of the Word of truth -- and we respect them for every bit of the truth they stand for -- nevertheless we cannot help but repudiate their theories in regard to infant regeneration and infant baptism.

The theory, as stated so elaborately by Dr. W. G. T. Shedd of Princeton Seminary fame in his Dogmatic Theology, is that the infants born to believers inherit salvation. Since the believer is in covenant with God, "The infant of the believer, consequently, obtains the regenerating grace by virtue of his birth and descent from a believer in covenant with God" (Shedd, Vol. 2, page 576).

This is supposed to the continuation of the Abrahamic covenant of the Old Testament, allegedly fulfilled in this age in the New Testament church. Baptism is viewed as replacing or continuing circumcision, and the church replaces Israel. Some call it "replacement eschatology."

Dr. Shedd cites the historic Presbyterian Westminster Confession which affirms that "the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized" (WCF, 28:4), for "Baptism is to be administered, to be a sign and seal of regeneration and ingrating into Christ, and that even to infants" (Larger Catechism, 177).

Pedobaptist preachers, such as R. C. Sproul, Jay Adams, J. I. Packer (Anglican), and Iain Murray, hold to this theory. Supposedly, infants born to a believer receive regeneration in infancy, are baptized, and are regarded as members of the church. Dr. Shedd says that such infants of believers are "born into the church" (Vol. 2, page 576).

Dr. Shedd says, "The infant of the believer receives the Holy Spirit as a regenerating Spirit, by virtue of the covenant between God and his people" (Vol. 2, page 576).

"They are church members by reason of their birth from believing parents" (Vol. 2, page 576).

"Baptism is the infallible sign of regeneration, when the infant dies in infancy," but it is only the "probable sign of regeneration when the infant lives to years of discretion"(Vol. 2, pages 576, 577).

Now, there is the BIG PROBLEM with all of this phantasmagoria about infants and what they supposedly have by virtue of being born to believers. Why is baptism an "infallible sign" of the regeneration in the case of an infant who dies, but only a "probable sign" when the infant does not die? Both were born to believing parents; wherein lies the difference?

Does this mean the covenant in the case of the living child is conditional upon the subsequent life and works of that baptized infant?

This seems to the case, for Dr. Shedd says:

"So a baptized child, in adult years, may renounce his baptism and church membership, become an infidel, and join the synagogue of Satan; but until he does this, he must be regarded as a member of the church of Christ" (Vol. 2, page 577).

Now, pray tell, where is the sanity of this type of palabber in the light of the Bible doctrine of salvation solely by the grace of God?

How can it be said that the infant born of a believing parent inherits the blessing of regeneration, but then this only means means that the baptism (as a "sign and seal" of regeneration) and the regeneration itself are meaningless, empty shells, if the regenerated infant grows up and renounces it all?

Is this not making election, calling, justification, sanctification, perseverance and glorification all ultimately dependent upon the deeds of the infant in his maturity, despite his being "filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb," like the John the Baptist? (see Shedd, Vol. 2, page 505).

What is this but salvation by works? Dr. Shedd seems to say as much:

"The reason why there is not an infallible connection between infant baptism and regeneration . . . is the fact that the covenant is not observed on the human side with absolute perfection. Should the believer keep the promise on his part with entire completeness, God would be bound to fulfill the promise on his part. . . . God is, therefore, not absolutely indebted to the believer, by reason of the believer's action, in respect to the regeneration of the child." Therefore, according to Shedd, "the regeneration of the baptized child" may be "highly probable . . . yet not infallibly and necessarily certain."

This seems to mean that the entire supposed "covenant" is dependent upon how the parent raises the child and what the baptized infant does in his subsequent adult life.

If that is not the odor of the rotten rag of salvation by works, what is it? How can believers in grace in this area of South Carolina be so naive as to seek membership in a group which makes salvation conditional upon human behavior? Is it any marvel that fellows like Pedobaptist John Robbins are engaged in exposing apostasy in the Presbyterian denomination? It may be that some of those "regenerated" infants have grown up and did not behave in accord with the conditions of the supposed "covenant"?

By the way, these views on infant regeneration, baptism, and church membership were also the views of Pedobaptist Louis Berkhof, whose theological work is published by the Banner of Truth Trust.

Do you understand why we were surprised to see the Southern Baptists of the Founders Ministries feature Pedobaptist R. C. Sproul as their featured speaker at their Breakfast during the recent Southern Baptist Convention? Was there not a Baptist available?

-- Bob L. Ross

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