Monday, December 19, 2011

Can you be a Reformed Baptist?

I will get back to the review of Culture Making soon enough. However, this has been on my mind a little bit, and I ran across some old posts and Alpha and Omega Ministries arguing this point. James White seems to have been upset and a little offended by R. Scott Clark not taking the time to notice the difference between covenantal and non-covenantal credobaptists. It seems to have involved Radon Thoughts where you can read some interaction with Clark, and then White has a short follow up. Again this seems to have been two years ago, and Dr. Clark's blog has since been taken down, so I could not read what he wrote originally.

Since I could not read the original blog do not take this as a whole sale defense of R. Scott Clark. That being said, he is right. You cannot be a Credo-Baptist and Reformed. And I think that applies even if I grant everything that James White says. Even if I agree with his take on Acts 2:39 (and he has a point about not quoting the whole verse, although I think quoting the whole thing strengthens the infant baptism position). Even if I agree that a Credo-Baptist can be covenantal in his approach, I don't think that they can be considered Reformed. Why? Because the Reformation defined itself. In the creeds.

Find me one Reformed Creed that allows Credo Baptism only. You can't. You can't because it does not exist. Even the creeds designed to bring people together like the Heidelberg Catechism requires infant baptism. Even the very accepting city of Strassborg penned the Tetrapolitian Confession of 1530 and it requires infant baptism. Radon Thoughts tries to defined Reformed as being covenantal and adherence to the Five Solas, but that is not how the Reformation defined itself. When they drew the boundary lines, they always drew them to exclude Credo Only Baptism. Some the creeds are even what we would consider weak or open on Predestination, but not on infant baptism. It was considered a fundamental to being Reformed.

Randon Thoughts also brings up the 1689 London Confession that is basically the Westminster Confession with a Credo Baptist section on Baptism. But the Reformation is over by this point. The latest date one can place on the Reformation is 1649 when the Peace of Westphalia made the Reformed Faith legal in the German Empire. So this does not count as a Reformational Creed.

James White does claim that such a position as mine is a position of tradition, and thus he would be more in line with the spirit of the Reformation by reconsidering the doctrines according to the Word, and throwing out that which does not fit. However, many have done just that. Arminius believed he did it, and he threw out predestination. Wesley did the same thing. As did George Fox. There have been numerous movements that examined what the Reformation believed and in their opinion it was wrong, so they changed it. But those are all rightly known by other names. The Arminians or Remonstrants, the Methodists, and the Quakers. Why are they not called Reformed? Because they examined the Reformed beliefs, and changed them. Thus they are not Reformed any more! This is what the Baptists did when they made the London Baptist Confession of 1689. They changed it, and today we call them Baptists. Not Reformed Baptists, just Baptists. If you examine a set of beliefs and change some of them because you believe they are wrong, then you don't get to take the name of the set of beliefs you just left behind. It is just how life works.


Matt Powell said...

Good article, thanks.