Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 10:58 PM
Subject: MURRAY'S MURKY MIRAGE [06/11/04]

We have an article on our website in reply to Iain Murray of The Banner of Truth in regard to the use of public invitations in church and evangelistic services. <>

In that article, we focus upon the fact that Mr. Murray writes on the basis of the Pedobaptist theological view that the unbelieving infant children of believing parents are regenerated in infancy since they are presumed to be "the heirs of the promised blessings."

This view is put forth in the BT publication, Systematic Theology, by Louis Berkhof, which is heralded by the BT catalog as "expounding Christianity according to the Reformed position." Also, according to the Westminster Confession, "the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) . . . " (WC, 28:6).

The Pedobaptists believe that baptism is commanded (WIC 28:1) and that it is the scripturally warranted duty of believing parents to have their children baptized in infancy (WIC 28:4), and that it is "a great sin . . . to neglect this ordinance" ( WIC 28:5).

This places the Pedobaptist parents under psychological pressure to respond to the Pedobaptist "invitation system" to do their "duty" and "come forward" to have their children baptized. So the Pedobaptists DO HAVE an "invitation system," and C. H. Spurgeon did preach against that system, but he never opposed the "public invitation system" practiced by Baptists and other non-Pedobaptists.

Thus, the system of "evangelism" with the Reformed Pedobaptists is primarily the baptism of children in infancy, and it is supposed that these infants are in a state of "regeneration." It is denied that the baptism itself regenerates, but it is at least a "sign" of regeneration, of engrafting into Christ, and puts the unbelieving infant "into the visible church" (WC 28:1). This is the primary system whereby Reformed Pedobaptists, Roman Catholics, Episcoplians and other Pedobaptists add members to their communions.

Now, with that type of doctrine on the regeneration of infants, it is understandable why a Pedobaptist such as Mr. Murray would not have any use for the type of public invitation which is practiced in a Baptist church or evangelistic meeting where the Gospel is faithfully preached. Some Pedobaptist who was taught that he was "regenerated in infancy" might be "misled" to think that he had never been born again, and he might be "deluded" to respond to an invitation to repent and confess Christ as Saviour.

And the fact is, many of those who were saved at such meetings were at one time Pedobaptists. I myself was once a Pedobaptist, baptized by the Methodists, and was later saved in a Baptist evangelistic meeting. C. H. Spurgeon was the son of Pedobaptists, but was saved when he heard the Gospel and was directed to "Look to Jesus" for salvation.

I have been looking at some of Mr. Iain Murray's adroit but deficient arguments in his anti-public invitation booklet, The Invitation System, and it remarkable how so many of his points could very well apply in regard to infant baptism. It is amazing that Mr. Murray can use such arguments without the realization that they are more appropriate against infant baptism than 'the invitation.'

1. Mr. Murray surveys a few texts which are offered by some which have to do with inviting sinners to Christ, and he concludes that there is "no parallel" to the public invitation.

This is certainly the case with any and all texts offered for infant baptism, as well as for the idea of regeneration in infancy. While Pedobaptists may satisfy themselves with their own form of torturing Scripture to justify their practices, Baptists find no basis whatsoever for baptizing infants or for believing that infant children of believing parents have regeneration as an inheritance vouchsafed in the supposed "covenant."

2. On confession of Christ, Mr. Murray conjures up the following: "To confess Christ is the spiritual duty of a Christian. It is no part of the gospel to say that compliance with certain outward duties will help us to become Christians."

If confession is indeed the spiritual duty of a "Christian," how can the unbelieving "regenerated" infant confess something of which he is not even capable of  knowing? 

As for Mr. Murray's latter statement, while confession is not something which "will help us to become Christians," it is something which is closely conjoined with believing in Christ (Romans 10:9, 10; Phil. 2:11). The converts of whom we read in Scripture, who believed on Him, confessed Him. But when many of the chief rulers believed on Him but did not confess Him for fear of being put out of the synagogues, it is said that "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" -- not a very good sign that they had saving faith (John 12:42). Is one who will not confess Christ a regenerated person (1 John 4:15)?

3. Murray states that "before anyone concludes that 'the invitation' merely changes the mode in which the confession is made, it has to be asserted that baptism never had the place in evangelism which the invitation system has now."

But Mr. Murray here makes a great assumption, namely, that baptism was the mode of "confession" in biblical evangelism. That this was not the case is easily seen when one simply examines the various conversions recorded in the New Testament. Oral confession was made before baptism, and was an obvious prerequisite to baptism.

In infant baptism, however, the infant has no faith to confess, and cannot make a confession due to its lack of intellectual development. Therefore, parental "sponsors" have been installed as the "mode" in the Pedobaptist system to confess for the "regenerated" unbelieving, unconfessing infants. The parents confess what the infant neither confesses nor is it certain will ever confess. If the parents truly confessed the actual state of the infant, they would have to confess to the child's nonbelief and unregeneracy.

The public invitation practiced by Baptists preserves the element of personal confession on the part of the responding individual. Since there is no "mode" specifically ordained in Scripture, there can be no objection to any "mode" which preserves the essentials inherent in oral confession.

4. Murray alleges that "the sudden public profession of Christ by persons whose experience has been tested neither by time nor by the examination of pastors, is calculated to be disastrous."

But what about the very early baptism of infants at an age when absolutely nothing of a spiritual nature has been "tested" neither by time nor the examination of pastors as to their alleged "regeneration"? Is it more likely that a baptized infant has been regenerated than one who comes forward during an invitation to confess faith in Christ?

We have many instances in Scripture of "sudden public professions of Christ," tested neither by time nor Pedobaptist ministers. The woman at the well in John 4, the woman in Simon's house in Luke 7, Zaccheus the chief publican in Luke 19, the publican who prayed in Luke 18:13, the first converts in John chapter one, the Philippian jailer in Acts 16, the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, the converts in Ephesus (Acts 19:18-20), the converts in Athens in Acts 17:34, and others made "sudden" confessions of faith. Thousands on Pentecost made "sudden" confession of faith in Christ. How many of these "sudden professions" turned out to be "disastrous"? Is it more likely that "sudden professions" such as these would be "disastrous" rather than unbelieving infants who are baptized before they ever believe in Christ?

5. Murray also alleges, "But if the evangelist's choice in employing 'the invitation' is an optional one it cannot have scriptural evidence to warrant it, for in that case the evangelical preacher would be under an obligation and have no option."

This is rather amusing to a Baptist, for the Westminster Confession teaches that baptism is warranted, but no particular "mode" is mandated. In chapter 28, the WC approves of dipping, sprinkling, or pouring, whereas in actual practice "dipping" (which is the form of baptism used by the primitive church, according to Calvin in his Institutes, Book IV:xv:19) has been used less by the Pedobaptists than any other mode.

Berkhof argues against the Baptists on baptism, and alleges that any "mode" is all right since we are not "explicitly told just how baptism was administered." On the other hand, Murray acknowledges that confession is to be made, but he argues against using an invitation as a "mode" of accommodating the confession since he says it does not have a scriptural "warrant" for its use. It seems you need no specific warrant for a specific "mode" of baptism, but you must have a specific warrant for a specific "mode" of confession!

6. Murray turns to atheist David Hume, to secular psychologists, and to modern psychiatrists for aid in spinning a pile of palabber against 'the invitation' on psychological grounds.

Murray refers to "some" who are interested in psychology who "do not claim to be evangelicals" who have scrutinized 'the invitation' and found it to be psychologically wanting. We wonder if it may be that the men referred to are also among those who were allegedly "regenerated" in infancy, and whether this might account for their antagonism to 'the invitation'?

Murray quotes atheist Hume and concludes from the skeptic's jeer that "some people can be conditioned by a large crowd." Would this perhaps also be applicable to the very "large crowd" of Pedobaptists in Great Britain as to "conditioning" the population in regard to the populace's practicing infant baptism and using modes other than dipping as baptism?

7. The heart of the issue with Mr. Murray is discussed under the heading of "Doctrinal Implications." Here he relies upon the "pre-faith regeneration" theory as expounded in Berkhof's Systematic Theology. He says, "Certainly, we are prepared to grant that the whole case for the public appeal can be reduced to the question" on the "order" of salvation.

While Mr. Murray focuses his refutation on the view of "post-faith regeneration," he himself falls into the same category of semi-Pelagianism. In refuting Harold Ockenga's "assumption that a biblical command implies ability on the part of those addressed," Murray himself equally has man in a state of ability prior to faith.

Ockenga's view has man possessed of such ability as a natural attribute. Mr. Murray has a the sinner "implanted" with a "new nature" which has an "ability" so that "true faith can be exercised." He says, "it is never permissible to represent an unregenerate man as being able to do what Scripture declares he will not do."

So both Ockenga and Murray agree that prior to faith a man has an "ability" to comply with the biblical command to believe. They simply arrive at the same place by different routes.

Murray seems to be oblivious to the Creedal view that the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to create faith in those who have no ability, no more ability than the dry bones to which Ezekiel preached, and no more ability than dead Lazarus had when Christ spoke him back to life. "Ability" has nothing to do with it; it is the Spirit's blessing the Word of His power that brings faith into exercise.

9. Murray says, "Our charge is that the invitation system leads inevitably to the danger of hastening unregenerate men to confess their 'faith.'"

But Murray does not seem to realize that this is much more applicable to unregenerate infants being baptized into the church than to 'the invitation.' Unbelieving, unregenerate Infants are forcibly baptized, having no choice whatsoever in the matter, on the presumption of the Pedobaptist theologians that they are "regenerate." How many of these are now in Hell, despite their infant baptism?

10. Murray quotes Lewis S. Chafer who says, "It is this natural tendency to do something of merit that prompts many to respond to the evangelist's appeal."

The fact is, this objection is also much more applicable to baptizing infants, as the believing parents of infants are prompted by the appeal of Pedobaptist ministers to do something which is regarded as being in obedience to God, when in reality God has never required it.

10. Murray further says, "We are not for a moment asserting that no one is converted where the invitation system is employed, only that the system has, in reality, no connection with rebirth. Some are converted in spite of it, and not because of it."

This, too, is most applicable to infant baptism. Infants are not regenerated in infancy, and infant baptism has no connection with rebirth. Many indeed are later born again, many on the occasion of public invitations, in spite of having been baptized in infancy.

11. Murray alleges that 'the invitation system' "institutes a condition of salvation which Christ never commanded."

The theory of infant regeneration certainly institutes a condition of salvation which Christ never commanded. "You must be born again" is a condition of salvation, and to teach that one is born again as an infant and is to be baptized into the church is an institution Christ never commanded.

12. Murray reasons that those who do not respond to the invitation "are falsely supposed to be disobeying God."

This is certainly true in the case of parents who do not obey the commandments and doctrines of Pedobaptists when the parents do not bring their infants forward for baptism. Pedobaptists falsely suppose that such parents are disobeying God.

As for those who hear the Gospel faithfully preached and refuse to respond in repentance from sin and confession of Christ, they do indeed disobey God every time they hear this truth and fail to comply in repentance and faith. Their refusal to come forth openly during an invitation is just one form of expressing their refusal to repent and confess Christ as Saviour.

13. Murray charges that "There is reason to believe that the number who do go through the form of 'receiving Christ' after an appeal, and who then fall entirely away, is not inconsiderable."

I don't know where Mr. Murray is getting either his fabulous insight into the spiritual condition of these professors, nor where he is discerning the "number" he mentions; however, I would not be a bit surprised if the number of those baptized in infancy who "fall entirely away" far exceeds the number of those who profess faith during invitations and yet fall away.

14. Murray finally has criticism of the "inquiry room" and he appropriates quotations from C. H. Spurgeon in the latter pages of the booklet.

But the fact is, as we have demonstrated, Spurgeon himself used the "inquiry room" and while he wanted to guard against the abuse of it, he never opposed its use, nor did he oppose "the invitation system," as has been falsely alleged. Spurgeon approved of any reasonable method which tended to bring men to repentance and confession of Christ as Saviour.

Spurgeon said of D. L. Moody, for example --

"I believe that it is a great help in bringing people to DECISION when Mr. Moody asks those to STAND UP who wish to be prayed for.   Anything that tends to separate you from the ungodly around you, is good for you. Now, if you have given yourselves to Christ, tell it out; for, after that, you cannot go back to the world, you will feel that the vows of the Lord are upon you. When Caesar landed on a certain shore, he burned his boats behind him, so that his men might know that they must conquer or perish. I advise you to do likewise; burn your boats by a clear and explicit declaration. " (MTP, 1897, page 516).

-- Bob L. Ross

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