I’m a Baptist, but kinda barely! I believe baptism is only for those who are receiving it in faith, but the tradition of the Reformation churches persuades me to recognize the baptism of infants! (Not as the norm, but as an irregular expression of the sacrament)… So here’s my 6,700 word paper on why I think most Baptists see baptism as more of a law duty than as a gospel gift.
Check it out, thinkers! Thanks for reading,
Baptist Identity and Sacramental Malformation
A Baptist identity is difficult to define and locate within broader church history, but in general there have always been those who practice credobaptism (believers only to be baptized). It was through the Reformation and its subsequent centuries that Baptists articulated a confessional identity under the Protestant umbrella. Among the branching family of Protestant denominations, church radicals (Baptists among them) are those who bore the malice of Rome from one side, and the scorn of the paedobaptist Reformation bodies from the other. Through the sustained three-way tussles between Roman Catholicism (RC[C]), high-church State Protestantism, and the burgeoning free-churches (including Baptists), the sacramental theology (ST) of the Baptists has never been developed and articulated apart from the conscious strain of these polemics.
Perhaps in relation to this, the greater portion of Baptists have tended to exclude the sacraments as means of God’s effectual work of salvation. For the Baptist, sacramental grace is often rejected as having the whiff of Romanism; the Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican churches (with their varied STs) may appear to the Baptist as compromised, or otherwise stuck in a sort of incomplete reformation. Because Baptists tend to view the RCC as the arch villain of accretive doctrinal excess (a la “sacred tradition”), any given Baptist doctrine may take a reactionary skew and thus miss or distort key biblical data. In spite of this visceral antipathy, the Baptist is ever a Christian under the authority of Scripture, and so he may be persuaded to re-visit traditional beliefs in the light of Scripture as it has been interpreted within the greater Reformation heritage.
So as to provide the historical and theological background against which Baptists react, I will note the vital connection in RC between ecclesiology and ST, this being near the heart of the Reformation protest. Over against this medieval RC juggernaut, the Lutheran and Calvinist confessional bodies found agreement in the gospel even while confessing their differing expressions of sacramental grace. In this paper I will briefly demonstrate that sacramental grace is not necessarily RC, nor does it necessitate RC ecclesiology. In addition, I will make note of the growing Baptist voices who represent an openness to an embrace of sacramental grace within the outlines of otherwise traditional Baptist theology. Continue reading