Sent: Monday, May 31, 2004 7:04 PM

Like the 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 writes:

Dear Bob:

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 write.

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, Michael:

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 (1689)
"With slight revisions by C. H. Spurgeon  The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)
"Chapter 10: Effectual Calling
"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 behalf." 

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]


I 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 Schaefer?"

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.

But by 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 takes place.

At any rate, as a Baptist, we do not share an interest about infants in relation to baptism. -- Bob L. Ross