Saturday, 1 May 2010

"Presumption and sacrilege"

Tomorrow I'm preaching (God-willing) on Mark 10:13-16 - "let the little children come unto me".

Some paedobaptists have found in this passage an argument for paedobaptism. Ho hum. And amongst that number is John Calvin, whose boots we would not be fit to polish... but who was not infallible, and in his commentary on this passage states, in direct application to those who don't baptise infants, that "it is presumption and sacrilege to drive far from the fold of Christ those whom he cherishes in his bosom, and to shut the door, and exclude as strangers those whom he does not wish to be forbidden to come to him."

This conjures up an interesting mental image of what Calvin (and other paedobaptist writers who've run the same line) supposed Baptist churches to be like.

Here in Eldoret we run children's clubs (had a holiday one this week, and the weekly one this afternoon), have spent some weeks to train our Sunday School teachers, teach the catechism, teach songs, teach the Bible day in and out in family worship, have had special meetings to press parents' duties upon them, and arrange the Sunday School to be before the service that the children can all be in the sermon.

But in Calvin's mental universe, it appears that it is actually of the essence of the Baptist position to be halting the service when we see children approaching, chasing them far off down the hill, and bolting the door in case they dare to show their faces again!

Ha ha! The key is in Charles Spurgeon's famous sermon title: "Children to be brought to Christ - not to the font". Regular Baptists don't actually leave their children in the parking lot when they go to church, and therefore Jesus' rebuke of the disciples in this passage does not neatly transfer over to an anti-Baptist application; unless you believe in sacramental regeneration, i.e. in literal "Christening" via the water. Notice that when Jesus insisted the infants were brought to himself, according to the Scriptures, he prayed for them - exactly what Baptists do; he did not baptise them or perform any other sacramental ceremony, and it is ridiculous special pleading to insist (as even John Murray does in his book) that Jesus words' necessitate we do what Jesus never did.

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