The Subjects Of Baptism -- By: Fred A. Malone
RBTR 2:1 (January 2005) p. 56
The Subjects Of Baptism
Fred A. Malone, Ph.D., is pastor of First Baptist Church, Clinton, LA, and author of The Baptism of Disciples Alone. Some of the material in this article has been adapted from that book and is used by permission from Founders Press.
The baptism of disciples alone is one of the distinctive beliefs and practices of Reformed Baptists. We hold much in common with our Reformed paedobaptist friends as is evidenced by the immense theological unity expressed in the common language between the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) and the Second London Confession of Faith of 1689 (2ndLCF). There is a noticeable difference, however, between these Confessions on the doctrine of baptism, both for the subjects and mode of baptism. In this article, we will simply accept Calvin’s position that immersion was practiced in the early church and concentrate instead on the subjects of New Covenant baptism.1
The issue of the sacraments (“ordinances” for some Baptists) is no small issue. One of the three marks of the true visible church in Reformation theology is the right administration of the sacraments, along with the preaching of the Word of God and the right administration of church discipline. It is no secret that the occasion of Luther and Calvin’s objections to Roman Catholic doctrine had to do with the improper multiplication, meaning, and administration of the sacraments. At the heart of the Reformation is the proper theology and administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Reformed (“Covenantal”) Baptists hold to the doctrine of credobaptism (credo, “I believe”) as part of their doctrine of the sacraments; that is, the baptism of disciples alone. This doctrine necessarily separates Reformed brethren ecclesiastically in the visible church. The implications of one’s view of the subjects of baptism necessarily affect the practice of evangelism, the membership of the visible church, the doctrine of worship, and the practice of church discipline.
An irenic spirit between Reformed brethren must prevail in our discussions about baptism. Let us all hold to a clear conscience before
RBTR 2:1 (January 2005) p. 57
God and His Word, however, in our practice. To do less will undermine our consciences in other truths and ultimately do the cause of biblical reformation great harm. Soli Deo Gloria!
At first glance the 2ndLCF may seem to have little to say concerning the doctrine of baptism other than the obvious brief chapters on the ordinances (2ndLC...
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