Calvin 500

July 14, 2009

Some of you may have missed that July 10 was Calvin’s 500th birthday.  Celebrations were held all over the world in honor of Calvin and especially in Geneva, Switzerland, where many Calvinists gathered for the Calvin500 Conference.  I’ve taught World History for almost 20 years, so in the historic realm, I see Calvin as an important figure in the history of the world.   I believe that God providentially used the reformers at that point in time to counteract the harmful effects of Roman Catholicism on Europe.   Although not itself a grand purveyor of freedom, the Protestant Reformation loosened the tyranny of a Catholic stranglehold.  The translation, printing, and distribution of the Bible brought the real freedom as men and women could decide for themselves what God had said.

At the same time, the state churchism of Calvin, Zwingli, and Luther are not my ecclesiastical heritage.  Mine is found in the independent New Testament church movement represented in the Schleitheim Confession of 1527.   In response to this document, in 1544 Calvin disseminated his Brief Instruction for Arming All the Good Faithful against the Errors of the Common Sect of the Anabaptists, at the beginning of which, Calvin said it was was written by “ignorant persons ” and with “nothing beneficial for persons of learning and understanding, seeing that, in addition to being inept and haphazardly written, it sufficiently discredits itself.”  Calvin went on to passionately denounce believer’s baptism and defend infant sprinkling, despite the fact that Calvin himself conceded that baby baptism itself was found nowhere in the Bible.   His chief argument was that since scripture says nothing about women recieving the Lord’s Table, and yet women partake of that ordinance and it is good for them, then baptism, also being good for its recipients, should be applied to the never mentioned infants, seeing that the Lord regards these babies as the “servants of His church.”  In addition to passing down the heritage of a state church, which we can all be thankful was rejected by the Baptists in colonial America, Calvin also bequeathed this dangerous and unscriptural doctrine of infant sprinkling, of which John Gill later wrote in 1765:

The Paedobaptists are ever restless and uneasy, endeavoring to maintain and support, if possible, their unscriptural practice of infant-baptism; though it is no other than a pillar of popery; that by which Antichrist has spread his baneful influence over many nations; is the basis of national churches and worldly establishments; that which unites the church and world, and keeps them together; nor can there be a full separation of the one from the other, nor a thorough reformation in religion; until it is wholly removed: and though it has so long and largely obtained, and still does obtain; I believe with a firm and unshaken faith, that the time is hastening on, when infant-baptism will be no more practiced in the world; when churches will be formed on the same plan they were in the times of the apostles; when gospel-doctrine and discipline will be restored to their primitive luster and purity; when the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper will be administered as they were first delivered, clear of all present corruption and superstition.

Calvin and Baptismal Regeneration

When I read Calvin’s massive Institutes of the Christian Religion and other writings, I read a false gospel.  The Calvinists often rush to explain that we just don’t understand Calvin or that we’re wrongly interpreting him.  I didn’t get the Calvin code book, I guess, because he seems very clear to me, clearly wrong, but communicating it in plain fashion. He wrote (Institutes, 4:17:1, 4:15:3, 4):

God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption . . . whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified . . . forgiveness, which at our first regeneration we receive by baptism alone . . . forgiveness has reference to baptism.

Calvin also published (1547 Antidote to the Council of Trent, Reply to the 1st Decree of the 5th Session):

We assert that the whole guilt of sin is taken away in baptism, so that the remains of sin still existing are not imputed. That this may be more clear, let my readers call to mind that there is a twofold grace in baptism, for therein both remission of sins and regeneration are offered to us. We teach that full remission is made . . . by baptism . . . the guilt is effaced [and] it is null in regard to imputation. Nothing is plainer than this doctrine.

He continued in the same publication (Canon #5):

We, too [as do the Catholics], acknowledge that the use of baptism is necessary—that no one may omit it from either neglect or contempt. In this way we by no means make it free (optional). And not only do we strictly bind the faithful to the observance of it, but we also maintain that it is the ordinary instrument of God in washing and renewing us; in short, in communicating to us salvation. The only exception we make is, that the hand of God must not be tied down to the instrument. He may of himself accomplish salvation. For when an opportunity for baptism is wanting, the promise of God alone is amply sufficient.

John Calvin also wrote in his Commentary on Matthew (19:14):

We . . . maintain that since baptism is the pledge and figure of the forgiveness of sins and likewise of adoption by God, it ought not to be denied to infants whom God adopts and washes with the blood of His Son.

In answer to these quotes of Calvin, an advocate of sole fide might quote the Westminster Confession of Faith (Article V of Chapter XXVIII):

Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

I admit that this part of the WCF sounds great. But it’s only great in that it clears up one problem, that is, baptism isn’t necessary for salvation if an adult without baptism later places faith in Christ alone for salvation. However, it’s easy to see upon reading Calvin that he believed that baptism is not the only way of regeneration or salvation.  This WCF statement does not repudiate baptismal regeneration.

Are we going to be loyal to the God and the Bible in our belief and teaching on the gospel and baptism?  I’m not going to agree to disagree.  I’m just going to disagree.

Calvin and the Lord’s Supper

In part one of his commentary on Jeremiah (fourth paragraph), Calvin wrote:

That we really feed in the Holy Supper on the flesh and blood of Christ, no otherwise than as bread and wine are the aliments of our bodies, we freely confess. If a clearer explanation is asked, we say, that the substance of Christ’s flesh and blood is our spiritual life, and that it is communicated to us under the symbols of bread and wine; for Christ, in instituting the mystery of The Supper, promised nothing falsely, nor mocked us with a vain shew, but represented by external signs what he has really given us.

I’ll let that speak for itself.  I don’t find it to be anything different than what I read in Calvin’s Institutes and in his Short Treatise on the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which he wrote this:

But as the blessings of Jesus Christ do not belong to us at all, unless he be previously ours, it is necessary, first of all, that he be given us in the Supper, in order that the things which we have mentioned may be truly accomplished in us. For this reason I am wont to say, that the substance of the sacraments is the Lord Jesus, and the efficacy of them the graces and blessings which we have by his means. Now the efficacy of the Supper is to confirm to us the reconciliation which we have with God through our Savior’s death and passion; the washing of our souls which we have in the shedding of his blood; the righteousness which we have in his obedience; in short, the hope of salvation which we have in all that he has done for us. It is necessary, then, that the substance should be conjoined with these, otherwise nothing would be firm or certain. Hence we conclude that two things are presented to us in the Supper, viz., Jesus Christ as the source and substance of all good; and, secondly, the fruit and efficacy of his death and passion.  This is implied in the words which were used. For after commanding us to eat his body and drink his blood, he adds that his body was delivered for us, and his blood shed for the remission of our sins. Hereby he intimates, first, that we ought not simply to communicate in his body and blood, without any other consideration, but in order to receive the fruit derived to us from his death and passion; secondly that we can attain the enjoyment of such fruit only by participating in his body and blood, from which it is derived.

Calvin taught that the real presence of Christ was found in the elements of the Lord’s Table. If John Calvin was not teaching that we receive salvation through the Lord’s Supper, he was at least making it very confusing as to whether someone could or could not be saved by partaking of the elements.

What did Calvin do for Baptists?

John T. Christian writes this in volume one, chapter fifteen, of his History of Baptists:

The influence of John Calvin had begun to be felt in English affairs. His books had appeared in translations in England. He was responsible in a large measure for the demon of hate and fierce hostility which the Baptists of England had to encounter. He advised that “Anabaptists and reactionists should be alike put to death” (Froude, History of England, V. p. 99). He wrote a letter to Lord Protector Somerset, the translation was probably made by Archbishop Cranmer (Calvin to the Protector, MSS. Domestic Edward VI, V. 1548) to the effect: “These altogether deserve to be well punished by the sword, seeing that they do conspire against God, who had set him in his royal seat.”

For those that think that Baptists are reformed or come out of the Reformation, they really need to study that time period and the relationship of the reformers to the Baptists.  They were separate from one another.  You also have the early history of the United States, when in the colonial period, the Puritans hated the Baptists.  The Baptists were treated criminal in the colonies.  They bore the persecutions of whipping, imprisonment, excommunication, banishment, ridicule, and starvation–all for believing and practicing principles which Baptists hold dear.  Henry Dunster (1612-1659), first president of Harvard, began to preach against infant baptism and in 1653, after twelve years of impressive service at Harvard, would not submit to sprinkling his fourth child.  Despite earnest pleading he was refused the use of his home, cast out into the winter, and died within five weeks.

The Baptists sacrificed to separate from infant sprinklers.  Today Baptists cozy up to them and appreciate them.  Men died rather than to subject their families to baby baptism.  Today Baptists are enthralled with John Calvin and the reformers, forgetting that heritage and that suffering.  C. H. Spurgeon wrote (from The New Park Street Pulpit, Volume VII, p. 225):

We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never come from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.

There are Baptists today who won’t separate over mode and recipient of baptism.  They say it’s a non-essential.  On this birthday of John Calvin, let us reconsider the authoritative Bible doctrine and love for the Lord that motivated our Baptist forefathers.

  1. P S Ferguson
    July 14, 2009 at 9:25 pm


    As a Presbyterian, I am not ignorant of the attempts to try and bypass the Reformation by Baptists. However, I do find it strange that the CH Spurgeon quote is constantly dragged up as proof that modern Baptists are different from Protestants. For the record, Spurgeon was baptised as an infant and his father and grandfather (a minister) were paedobaptists in the Refomation tradition. He was saved in a Primitive Methodist paedobaptist church. It was only after he was saved that he became a Baptist (of the Reformed Particular Baptists), praised Calvin as the theologian of his soteriology, and embraced the Received Text of the Refomers. I do not see how that qualifies Spurgeon in any way to disown a Refomation heritage! Just for the record on separation on “non-essentials,” Spurgeon often preached with his paedobaptist grandfather and invited a paedobaptist minister, AT Pierson to co-pastor with him.

    It is worth noting that although many Baptist historians claim a direct succession of Baptist Churches from the early New Testament days through groups like the Waldenses and the Anabaptists, this is problematic. While some early Separatist Baptists may have been influenced by some Anabaptism thinking, there is no evidence for historical continuity. Many Anabaptists were chiliasts, mystics, pantheists, pacifists, communalists. They also held to false doctrines such as Unitarianism, soul-sleep, and some to a semi-Pelagian view of sin. Notwithstanding, the historic Baptist Church confessions reject such as link. For instance, the First London Baptist Confession (1644) title page states that this was a confession of “churches which are commonly (though falsely) called Anabaptists.” The Confession or Declaration of Faith by the General Baptists says the same thing . The Second London Baptist Confession (1688) also affirms both the universal and local aspects of the church in article 26, sections 1 and 2. Both confessions make clear they are Protestants. Indeed, both the General and Particular Baptists derive from the British Puritan Separatists, which unquestionably emanated from the roots of the Protestant Reformation.

    It is easy to read the positions of anabaptism vs paedobaptism controversies in the light of today. However, they must be studied in the light of the period of great turmoil and immense darkness that the Reformers came from. Wars were beinf fought over the doctrine of Justifcation! The Independents were hated and persecuted by the Anglicans, the Scots Presbyterians were butchered to death by the English Anglicans – so does that prove that a Presbyterian today cannot have fellowship with or appreciate a JC Ryle?

    As you know, it is not often I would cite DBTS but for and excellent summary of this see “Are Baptists Protestants?” by Gerald L. Priest online at,%20Are%20Baptists%20Protestants.pdf

    IMMERSION – I do find it strange that so many Baptists attack paedobaptism on the grounds that it is not explicitly mentioned in the Scripture when they are happy to demand that immersion is the mode of baptism when there is no explicit reference to that also. Indeed, there is only one mode of ceremonial washing explicitly mentioned and that is sprinkling or pouring (Isa 52:15; Acts 2:17).

    One other question – was John the Baptist (who Baptists take their name from) regenerated and converted in the womb? Can a person be filled with the Holy Ghost without regeneration?

  2. July 14, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Paul, I appreciate your having the liberty to come here and discuss this issue with us (a liberty I wouldn’t have had in the Massachusetts Bay Colony of colonial America, 😉 ). It is late here and I have a few things to do, but I’ll get back to your comment.

  3. July 15, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Brother Ferguson,

    Without the silly jousting about the meaning of the word “baptizo” there is absolutely no Scriptural support for the sprinkling of infants.

    The Protestants have alternately hated, excoriated, demeaned, and even killed those who would either refuse to have their children sprinkled or had the audacity to perform baptism of adults who believed in Christ after they left the Protestant “churches.”

    By the way, I wouldn’t have fellowship on an ecclesiastical level with J.C. Ryle based on the doctrines of baptism. I don’t “separate” from Protestants because of history, but because of doctrine.

    I love Kent’s comment about your freedom to speak here. You should thank a few Baptists from Virginia and elsewhere for this freedom in the U.S.

  4. P S Ferguson
    July 15, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Br Art,

    Kent’s comments on freedom to speak are somewhat tongue in cheek. (I could also mention that we managed to free the slaves 100 years before “the land of the free” or that you managed to exchange a Protestant Constitution for a deistic one, but I will desist). As someone whose ancestors were persecuted Covenantor Scottish Presbyterian stock, I do not need lectures on religious liberties and persecution from anyone. Even if my forefathers hands were not clean, it makes no difference to the question here in 2009. I do not blame IFB members for the actions of their forefathers in respect of the mistreatment of slaves. Ironically, it took a few paedobaptist Englishmen in the form of George Whitefield and John Wesley to begin evangelising slaves belonging to our American Baptist brethren!

    You also speak of “Protestants” as if they were one monolithical block when a simple glance at Church History will delineate that this is far from the case. You are entitled to separate from Presbyterians on the basis of contemporary IFB doctrines. What both you and Kent are not entitled to do is to point to Church history and claim that this is a historic position.

    I note you did not provide a single Scripture to show explicitly that baptism is by immersion only. It seems to have escaped most of the Church also for the last 500 years! I am happy to defend the paedobaptist position if you will live up to your claims on the other. The “baptiso” lexican argument will I assure you cause more difficulties for you than me if you chose to try that escape hatch.

  5. July 15, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Hello again P. S. Ferguson.

    I included the Spurgeon quote because he’s someone who won’t be dismissed as a Landmarker, the typical type of strategy used by opposition to a spiritual kinship view of church history, that is, New Testament churches have existed since Christ known by different names, but with the same list of distinctives. I knew that he wasn’t the same kind of separatist ecclesiastically that I am. That doesn’t mean, however, that I am non supportive of positions where we find agreement or unity. I am very supportive of you and people like you in our common agreement on the text, worship, etc. I believe we have a biblical basis for supporting one another in those things.

    The groups to which you refer in the second paragraph were not monolithic, just like independent Bible-believing churches aren’t today. There was a line of churches in history that believed and practiced the Bible that were independent and separate from the state church. Some of their “history” was written by their enemies, their persecutors. It truly is a “trail of blood.” Spurgeon obviously believed the same thing. To get a more accurate position, you would benefit from reading more sources that are sympathetic with a succession of true churches since the time of Christ in harmony with scriptural presuppositions. You recognize that Gerald Priest doesn’t take that kind of presuppositional approach. He’d probably say he’s a presuppositionalist, but he would probably only choose that epistemology to defend certain theological positions.

    I do think you have a point that sometimes people may be a product of their era of history. And I take that into consideration. And I do appreciate right theology and exegesis when I see it, even from J. C. Ryle. I also understand why the WCF is universal church. They were Reformers and Protestants. They were reforming and protesting. They were part of something that they wanted to change. It is easy to see that they were affected by Roman Catholicism. DBTS, for instance, believes that the line of truth came through Roman Catholicism—that’s how God passed it down. I have corresponded with Gerald Priest on this issue.

    Local only ecclesiology is exegetical and historic. You read it in the Schleitheim Confession and in Clement, among other places. The places you read it will not be in the state church line of theology. I understand that I reference the WCF and the LBC. I think it is fine to do so for history of theology. I think I would have a greater challenge to my ecclesiology if there was no history. As the WCF and LBC relate to the doctrine of preservation of Scripture, there isn’t history for any other position.

    You probably already know the arguments for immersion—meaning of baptizo, examples in the NT, John baptized near Aenon because there was much water there, Jesus and the Eunuch went down into the water, portrayal of the death, burial, and resurrection, and no example of someone actually being sprinkled as a mode of baptism.

    Your John the Baptist question is a good one. I would argue that it isn’t normative. John the Baptist is a unique character. It is an example, but not one backed by propositional statements in scripture. I wouldn’t argue from that example that it overturns clear statements about salvation. It should be looked at as an exception. I don’t think it helps your argument, because there are plenty of example of infants sprinkled who grew up and didn’t live for the Lord. I would put it at millions. That illustrates the problem of practicing doctrine not found in the Bible. We can’t scripturally make the connection that “filled with the Spirit” and “regenerated” are the same thing.

    Again, P. S., thanks for commenting. Did you grow up a Presbyterian? You’re from Great Britain, aren’t you?

  6. July 15, 2009 at 10:37 am


    Regarding Baptist treatment of slaves, they colonial Baptists were different on the slavery issue. The first black congregation in America was in the South, started by Wait Palmer.

    This is from J. T. Christian’s History of Baptists, chapter two:

    The reader may trace this American succession through Dr. Clarke back to the primitive Baptists of England, or perhaps Holland. (When or where Elder Clarke was baptized and ordained is unknown. However, he was already an ordained Baptist Elder when he arrived in America in 1637). His succession includes the Lollards (so called) in England through the Welsh Anabaptists or the Lollards in Europe through the Dutch Anabaptists. In either case, a direct succession exists back to Jesus Christ. Both successions embrace pre-reformation, primitive Baptist, faith and practice.

    Elder Valentine Wightman is a link in the succession of the primitive Baptists from the Lollards of the Midlands of England to America. His family’s religious heritage was primitive Baptist. Also, his fellowship with Newport, North Kingston and Rehoboth Churches shows that he supported and taught the same principles of belief as John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes and John Comer who themselves were primitive Baptists. Like both his great-grandfather Edward Wightman, who was executed in 1612 for his primitive Baptist beliefs, and John Clarke, who established the first Baptist church in America, Valentine Wightman is a link in the chain of succession of the primitive Baptists.

    Elder Wightman baptized and ordained Elder Wait Palmer, who was pastor of the Baptist Church in Tolland, Connecticut. In 1751 Elder Palmer baptized and ordained Elder Shubal Stearns, who came to the Baptists from the Separatists. He was a “New Light” convert of the “Great Awakening” revival of George Whitfield.

    Notice the connection of Wait Palmer to the earliest of Baptists and then connect that to their attitude toward slaves.

  7. July 15, 2009 at 10:48 am


    Thayer: properly, to dip repeatedly, to immerge, submerge (of vessels sunk, Polybius 1, 51, 6; 8, 8, 4; of animals, Diodorus 1, 36).

    Liddell-Scott: to dip in or under water

    Friberg: strictly dip, immerse in water


    Louw-Nida: to cleanse and purify by means of sprinkling

    UBS Lexicon: sprinkle

    BDAG: To sprinkle liquid on something

    If sprinkling were the mode, the transliteration rantize would have been used in fitting with the verb for “sprinkle,” rantizo.

  8. P S Ferguson
    July 15, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Hi Kent

    I am glad we share many distinctive views and have the freedom to speak so frankly on these issues without offence. I imagine that, baptism aside, we probably have more in common that you have with the typical IFB church or I have with an OPC one. I grew up among the Free Presbyterians in Ireland and now live in Singapore where I am with the Bible Presbyterians here. Both denominations are militantly TR-only.

    Aside from biblical reasons, one of the reasons I am against your unnecessarily restrictive view of fellowship is because I also have spent some time living in England where true separatist believers are as scarce as hen’s teeth! You have the luxury of holding your views in a land were you are have many other identically like minded brethren. I received a moving picture recently which illustrates this of a group of pastors (that no doubt you would identify with) preaching in the open air at an Anglo-Catholic march in England against the idolatry. All were from small struggling churches, dressed in suits, in their 60s, separatists, and staunch KJV TBS members. One was a Presbyterian postmillennialist, another an amillennialist Independent credo-baptist, another a Baptist historic premillennialist, and the other a Wesleyan Pre-Trib Premillennialist. None of these men would ordain each other but all could see the sense in standing together in a public domain and raising the standard of the Cross against the evil in British society.

    IMMERSION – I have read the typical Baptist arguments for this and I find them exegetically suspect and begging the question. As a TR advocate, I would expect you to be sceptical of basing your doctrine on the lexicons of Neo-Orthodox scholars. If I were to propose a definition that says something quite different (and give an “authoritative” source), what would that do to the discussion? Also, any classics scholar can tell you that the cognates of “baptiso” are used with latitude & flexibility by the ancient Greeks (see the Septuagint such as Lev 14:6 for obvious examples).

    However, the question is not what the Koine Greek speakers understood “baptiso” but how the Scriptures used the word. I think we both agree that is the critical issue. If the word is used in a context where a STRICT root-meaning is inapplicable, the word’s definition has been expanded into a semantic range by a natural linguistic process of expansion. There is no explicit verse in Old or New Testament that says baptism is by immersion and that is your critical hurdle to overcome. I can point to the word “baptiso” explicitly used in relation to pouring (Acts 2:17) and this verse alone should be enough to stop any further argument. Acts 10:45 adds further evidence that “on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” In Acts 11:16, Peter under inspiration interprets this “pouring: as baptism as he said, “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”

    1 Peter 3:21 speaks of baptism corresponding to being safely brought through the flood. Obviously, Noah & family were the only ones not immersed!
    1 Cor. 10:2 speaks of being baptized into Moses in the cloud and sea. Obviously, this metaphorical use of “baptiso” does not refer to wetting at all, since the Israelites were not in the cloud and did not get wet in the Red Sea.

    A clear OT usage of “baptiso” is in respect of sprinkling of Gentiles (Isa 52:15). What was John doing that made them think he was the Messiah? Baptizing. But how, and why would that make them think of the Messiah? (Isa 52:15?) This also no doubt is what prompted the Gentile Ethiopian in Acts 8:35-36 to request baptism. Note v35 link of the “same scripture” that leads to the question in v36. What do you believe Isa 52:15 is referring to incidentally? Barnes makes a good observation of how the OT explained sacramental cleansings with blood and water,

    To this it may be replied, that the usual, the universal signification of the word (nāzâh) in the Old Testament is to sprinkle. The word occurs only in the following places, and is in all instances translated ‘sprinkle’ Exo 29:21; Lev 5:9; 6:6-17, 6:27; 8:11, 8:30; 14:7, 14:16, 14:27, 14:51; 16:14-15, 16:19; Num 8:7; 19:4, 19:18-19, 19:21; 2Kings 9:33; Isa 63:3. It is properly applicable to the act of sprinkling blood, or water; and then comes to be used in the sense of cleansing by the blood that makes expiation for sin, or of cleansing by water as an emblem of purifying. In Eze 36:25, the practice of sprinkling with consecrated water is referred to as synonymous with purifying – though a different word from this is used (zâraq), ‘and I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.’ If the word used here means ‘to sprinkle,’ it is used in one of the following significations:
    1. To sprinkle with blood, in allusion to the Levitical rite of sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice, meaning that in that way sin would be expiated and removed Lev 14:51; 16:14; Heb 9:19; Heb 10:22;,

    You can point to Romans 6 and claim that is water baptism (even though water is not mentioned in the passage!) and I will retort that notwithstanding Christ was not “immersed” in His burial in the ground. You will use narrative accounts like Acts 8 to illustrate that “they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch” and I will retort that this proves too much as this would mean under your exegesis that both pastor and baptismal account should be baptized on every occasion.

    These facts alone is why the majority of separatist TR men since the Reformation have rejected the immersion-only argument. That should be suggestive that this is not a clear Biblical doctrine. Is it not odd that Providence has blessed so many believers and churches that have taken a diametrically opposed position to Baptists on this and according to the Baptists “fail to follow the Great Commission” and are “sinning?” Why have the Baptists not made the outstanding contributions to world evangelism, Bible commentaries, Bible versions when they alone have built true NT churches? Seems Providence takes a different view of this “vital doctrine” of immersion!

    Baptists should search for ANY description of an OT cleansing (by water/blood/anything) that was described as, or clearly required, immersion. They will look in vain! Throughout Scripture there are many illustrations connected to spiritual cleansing and “separation” that God uses the words sprinkle and pour to effect. Ezekiel tells Israel that when the New Covenant arrives, in contrast to blood of animals sprinkled on the people, he will sprinkle them with clean water, and they will be clean. Without even bothering to make a tie-in to ritual baptism, you have to reckon with the simple fact that God uses the symbol of a shower to indicate a thorough cleansing. So, according to Baptists, the work of the Holy Spirit inwardly is improperly represented by a correlative outward act?

    Heb 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

    With regard to your “rantizo” argument, I can reverse the logic. Do you not find it strange that although the writers of the NT had another word for immerse-“enkataduno”- which is used in other instances, the word baptizo was consistently used to refer to that rite, and immerse is never used?

    I doubt if we will persuade each other, but if nothing else I raise these questions to show that we non-immersionists have not stumbled on some heretical doctrine lacking of exegetical argumentation. This is especially pertinent as one of the realities which baptism (the sign) represents is the cleansing effect of the blood of Christ on those who believe in Him (cf. 1 Cor 6:11; Heb 12:24; 1 Pet 1:2). And how is Christ’s blood applied to the elect? By sprinkling!

  9. P S Ferguson
    July 16, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Just to clarify the Greek Word the NT writers could have used to express immersion is,

    ἐγκαταδύνω sink beneath,

    1 aor2 -κατέδυν
    Liddell and Scott. An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1889.*e%3Aentry+group%3D3%3Aentry%3De)gkatadu%2Fnw

  10. July 16, 2009 at 6:21 am

    I greatly appreciate this post I’m always amazed at the pure man worship, and Idolatry that surrounds John Calvin. Its as if he spoke everything ex-cathreda, and God help if you ever down him in front of a reformed person. Personally if you want a bunch of unregenerate, catholic, baby baptizing, fatalism why don’t you go to the source St. Augustine.

  11. July 16, 2009 at 11:06 pm


    I have a kinship with you in the gospel and in a militancy for doctrine. You’re serious about it. And I don’t think anything is as important as the truth. There is something foundational there. I’m not insecure about what I believe, so I am comfortable clashing with people on beliefs. I’m also not afraid of changing if I could be shown the truth. I’ve been happy to know you.

    Regarding fellowship, you are intelligent enough to know that I restrict fellowship based on what I see in scripture about the nature of the church. I believe that it is the only way to be consistent on both the doctrines of unity and of separation. If I could be convinced otherwise, I believe I would change. God won’t deny Himself, so the position that is right will be consistent. I would feel the kinship with those men you described as well. I wouldn’t consider myself in fellowship with some of them, but I would be thankful for the truth that they proclaimed and lived.

    Regarding lexicons, I am skeptical too, but you had said that it would cause me “lexicon difficulties,” and it doesn’t. I was only meaning to indicate that. I believe the best way to study it is to look at usage, first in the NT. If the NT can settle it, we should stick with that. And I believe that it does, Paul. However, I am happy for someone who is willing to patiently type out a short defense of his view here. I rarely to never get that from anyone. I think the Septuagint is useful, but as a secondary source. I understand you needing to go there to get some expansion above the NT, because you can’t get it from the NT.

    I believe that your connection between the pouring of Acts 2:17-Acts 10:45 and Acts 11:16 is a stretch. I can see it as the best that someone could do, that is, to make that kind of ambiguous connection to define baptizo as “pour,” but the Greek words for “pour” and “baptize” are two different Greek words. The events found in Acts 2 and 10 were a fulfillment of the prophecy in the gospels and Acts 1, that is referenced again in Acts 11, but the baptism that took place occurred because of the pouring. There would be not baptism without pouring, but the pouring itself was not baptism. They are two parts to the same event.

    There is a Greek word that also hurts your argument in Acts 11:16 and that is the preposition “en.” The baptism was “in” the Holy Ghost. The preposition associated with the verb in Acts 2:17 and 10:45 is “ek” and the other is “apo.” Those are not talking about identically the same thing. They are the same event, but not the same action. They are as different as, well, pouring and immersing.

    I believe that you’ve got the wrong picture of the baptism in 1 Peter 3:21. The baptism of water that saved Noah and his family occurred to the world. The world was destroyed by the water. The water of baptism for a believer also saves him from the world, like that baptism saved Noah and his family. Again, that helps my understanding. Those people in the world were hardly sprinkled. Noah and his family would not have been saved through sprinkling or just pouring.

    The point of 1 Corinthians 10:2 is to show what baptism does in the way of identification and there was water involved, but you are right that it is used metaphorically to show that they were baptized “eis” Moses, that is, identifying with Moses as their leader. In the same way, when someone is “baptized into Christ,” he is associated with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, like we see in Romans 6:3-4.

    Maybe I’m looking at the wrong edition of the Septuagint (Ralf’s), but I don’t see baptizo in Isaiah 52:15. The verb is thaumazo. And who is the “he” that is doing the sprinkling? It is Jesus. And what is the communication of sprinkling? It is a sprinkling like the blood applied in the OT sacrificial system. He will cleanse the nations.

    When I look at the word baptizo in the OT, I see it in 2 Kings 5:14. Why not look at that one, when Naiman dipped himself in the Jordan seven times. Fitting, huh?

    The actual word baptizo would seem appropriate to look up, rather than look up the word sprinkle and then try to explain how that it must be talking about baptism, even though that isn’t the word that is used.

    Philip and the Eunuch both went into the water. Why would they do that if he was only going to sprinkle him?

    I don’t think that you could explain that TR separatists have rejected Immersion. Perhaps that was your experience in Ireland and Great Britain, but in the U.S. the separatists immersionists far, far out number any separatist non-immersionists. And if we compared the numbers in Great Britain with the U.S., you would be vastly outnumbered. Plus you have all those who practiced like Spurgeon did. He immersed.

    I had heard Hebrews 10:22 used, but I don’t get it, because it isn’t talking about baptism. Yes, hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, but baptism doesn’t clean us of anything (see 1 Peter 3 again, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh).

    You are right that I’m happy to see exegetical argument, but it seems so strained in light of plain meaning of the text. John baptized near Aenon, because there was much water there. Even in the analogy of the serpents slithering down to the water from a field fire, it wouldn’t seem that they slithered down to the Jordan to be sprinkled with water.

    Jesus was obviously immersed.

    You’ve got the meaning of baptizo. You’ve got John near Aenon. You’ve got Jesus. And then you have the Eunuch going down into the water, and it was Philip who baptized him IN the water. Try immersing someone in a river or lake while standing outside of the water. Those are plain texts. Then you’ve got the 1 Peter 3 passage fitting immersion. How did they drown unless they were immersed or plunged?

  12. PS Ferguson
    July 17, 2009 at 9:57 pm


    I will give this one more go and then leave you the last word. I appreciate that you have tried to answer the points instead of acting that the pre-adolescent teenager and resorting to ad hominem. I have merely sought to point out difficulties that in-house discussions frequently gloss over. All sides need to realize that others have some exegetical biblical grounds for their positions (unlike the Critical Text people), however mistaken. This ought to teach us humility and patience in our disagreements. If it really were just as simple as all agreeing “baptiso” means immerse the true church would not be so divided for centuries-long argument over the matter.

    I realize that you are consistent with your beliefs on the nature of the Church to a large extent. However, as you know we Presbyterians see interdependence in the NT churches and no attempt to explicitly make them independent of each other. That is why the Apostles could simply edict inspired commands to them and move from one pastorship to the next.

    Acts 2:17/Acts 10:45/Acts 11:16

    You say that there is no connection between baptism and pouring here. Your first argument that there is another word for pour that was used does not help you case as the Bible often uses more than one Greek verb to describe the same event. Also, as I have shown there is other clear Greek words for immerse that could have been used instead of “baptiso” so, at best, we will come out at a draw with this argument.

    I am glad you accept that pouring occurred in this baptism although you argue “There would be not baptism without pouring, but the pouring itself was not baptism.” Here you are trying to force the text to fit your presupposition. However, the Spirit was initially poured out upon them (we both agree as it says “the Holy Ghost fell on them”) and the only way you can get immersion in is to now argue that they were then taken and immersed into that “pool of the Spirit.” I can see nothing in the passages that warrant such a claim. Please note I am not using some ambiguous definition of associating “baptiso” with pouring but stating the connection the Bible gives it i.e. “the Holy Ghost fell on them” (not immersed!) and this was by “poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 10:45) and is called “baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 11:16). Your Greek preposition argument does not help either way as I am sure you know the extreme diversity of meanings in respect of these. Let me summarise:

    (1) The Holy Spirit was “poured out” upon them (Acts 10:45)
    (2) The Holy Spirit “fell on them” (Acts 11:16)
    (3) This action is called “baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 11:16)

    Now how you can squeeze immersion into the syntax or prepositions here is beyond me.

    1 Peter 3:21 – Most Baptists would have failed Peter and Paul in their basic hermeneutics classes at seminary for equating the figure of baptism with the Red Sea and Noah’s Flood incidents. Your answer is a good try to get round the problem but is another example of trying to force the text to fit your presupposition. The object of the baptism was Noah and family in the ark. We both agree that the ark was never immersed. We both agree that in baptism there is a sign of separation from the world. We both agree that the water poured down upon them and sprinkled them and the ark with water. I don’t think we need to go any further.

    1 Corinthians 10:2 – You are right with the identification point. However, the water illustration was that they never were submerged but passed under the cloud (see my points on Acts 2:17/Acts 10:45/Acts 11:16 again). At best our views are a draw here as you can say the figure shows they passed through the waters ON DRY LAND, but I can argue were not immersed in them and had the cloud above them!

    Isaiah 52:15 – Christ is doing the sprinkling but it is with water and is a cleansing for all Gentile nations. That is the point. You still have not explained what this passage actually means and why this did not lead the Ethiopian to seek baptism. I have no problem with using 2 Kings 5:14 as an OT example of “bapto” but you are then stuck with the same problem in passages such as the documented directions for the method of ceremonial washing of lepers in Lev 14:1. Regarding sin offering washings in Lev 4:6 and Exod 12:22 do you believe that anyone who heard this command believed that they were to immerse the entire piece of hyssop or just the end to paint the door lintels? I could also point to the Apocryphal’s usage of “baptiso” in Ecciesiasticus or Son of Sirach 34: 25 as evidencing that the Jews did not see “baptiso” as always signifying immersion.

    Rom 6/Col 2 – The text speaks of us being buried with Christ by baptism but also speaks of us being planted together in the likeness of His death. How is the crucifixion signified by immersion? Furthermore immersion signifies the limited imagery of being engrafted into Christ’s burial and resurrection, because Jesus was in a tomb with a door. The point being that baptism signifies so much more than merely our burial and resurrection with Christ and that to only look at two of the images in Romans and Colossians is arbitrary.

    I also like what one writer states,

    “if the mode of immersion is necessary for baptism, then why not for the other New Covenant sacrament, the Lord’s Supper? After all, Jesus instituted his Supper at Passover (Matthew 26:17). Shouldn’t we, then, partake of this meal once a year on the Passover? He institutes it at night (Matthew 26:20). This would mean the end of our “first Sunday morning of every month” practice of communion. Jesus gave his disciples holy communion while reclining at a table (Matthew 26:20). Should we get rid of pews? It was celebrated in an upper room (Mark 14:15). So do our church’s need to be at least two stories tall? Jesus shared with his disciples a common cup (Matthew 26:27). Is this the end of individual plastic cups? As well, Jesus and his disciples most likely drank wine and ate the unleavened bread of the Passover.”

    Acts 8 – I never said that Philip merely sprinkled the Ethiopian. He could have and this would not negate them going doing into the water for a public ceremony. However, he also could just have easily poured the water over his head. This would require a substantial amount of water in a desert. The same goes for all your arguments of much water. Baptizing a great number of people by sprinkling or pouring in a desert is going to require a large quantity of water. I would think this is self-evident.

    I never said that all TR separatists rejected immersion only. However, historically most did and that is the hurdle you need to overcome as Providence used those who Baptists claim are “sinning” and “not building NT churches” to be used in a greater way for world evangelism i.e. Hudson Taylor, Bible versions (Hills, KJV translators etc), Fundamentalism (most of early leaders were non-Immersionists), and Bible commentaries (Barnes, JFB, Henry, Lloyd Jones, etc). The fact that arguably today most separatists in the US are Baptists cannot overturn this fact. That is only a very recent phenomenon as men like Carl McIntire and Bob Jones Sr were not Baptists. Notwithstanding, I am very happy to stand with men like David Cloud and yourself on many common issues.

    Heb 10 – I accept that baptism is not explicitly mentioned but if the inner work of the Spirit is correlative to the outer act, and the outer act illustrative of the inner work ( as you say in baptism), then surely this “washing” would be appropriately exemplified by “sprinkling?” I would also argue that pouring or sprinkling best symbolizes the atonement of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit because the person is entirely passive in the event, therefore demonstrating in a visible or outward way the sovereignty of God in salvation. We believe that baptism (the sign) must be consistent with the thing it signifies, namely, the pouring out/falling upon of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2, 10 and 11; cf. Titus 3) and the sprinkling of the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9-10).

    Presbyterians believe Scripture is indifferent about the mode as the true meaning of baptism points more to our union with Christ. The debate over whether all our nose hairs got immersed takes the focus away from Christ to the quantity of water.

  13. July 18, 2009 at 11:29 am

    The Waldensians are often used as proof of the Apostolic origin of the Baptist Church. I won’t go into detail about their history before 1170 (Peter Waldo), though that is an interesting discussion, but I will point out that after Peter Waldo, while they shared certain baptistic principles, can hardly be called Baptists. On the contrary, as soon as the Reformation came around, they were very quick to associate themselves with Calvin and the Reformation. I have a 1669 book of Waldensian history with letters from Luther and de Beze concerning their reformed and evangelical faith.

    And Peter Waldo, to his death, always viewed himself as having come FROM the Catholic Church, and still in it. The only thing he disagreed with was his excommunication, which was over the right to preach.

    Being a small “sectarized” group, they did have some “interesting” theology during those wandering years before becoming part of the Reformed people. But in spite of that, as a whole, they remained very orthodox.

    But they can hardly be called pure baptist. I think they are somewhat like Augustine – everyone claims him!

  14. July 18, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    And well you wouldn’t want to discuss the waldenses prior to Peter Waldo, Daniel. Because they certainly would disprove the characterization that you have tried to make for them here.

  15. July 18, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Paul Ferguson,

    You cracked me up with the nose hairs being immersed (your last paragraph) as if the point here is to make sure plenty of water molecules touch our body. It is interesting to have you aimed my way.

    I never thought of going after you personally. In the time we’ve know each other, I knew that if I ventured off certain topics or issues that we would clash before long. As far as my being consistent with my local only ecclesiology, you may have misunderstood me. I’m saying that it is the only way to be consistent with scripture—to practice consistently separation and unity.

    Regarding “pour” and “baptize,” they are too different words. He was poured out, fell on them, was sent and then they were baptized in (en) the Holy Spirit. Then they were filled with the Spirit. That’s not the same thing as baptism. They were sealed with the Spirit. That’s not the same thing as baptism. They were regenerated by the Spirit. That’s not the same thing as baptism. Baptism is an event that was prophesied in the gospels and in Acts. They Holy Spirit was poured out and baptized. He was sent and baptized. He fell and then baptized. Yes, I believe baptizo means to dip, plunge, immerse. That is how people would have understood it in that day, so I believe it is something different than fell, poured, or sent.

    I believe that the use of different prepositions with each indicates the difference in meaning. The text doesn’t say “poured in,” but baptized in (with). It doesn’t say “baptized upon,” but “fell upon.” It doesn’t say “baptized out,” but “poured out.” Those are differences that make a difference.

    I have never thought of 1 Peter 3:21 as a major argument for immersion. I explained it to you as how I have explained it my entire ministry. Noah and his family were “saved by water.” How did water save them? It saved them from the world. That is clear all the way up to that point in the context. Noah and his family were suffering (the theme of 1 Peter) because of those who had mocked them during the days they were building the ark. The flood waters saved them from those people. Again, how did the water save them? It didn’t save them from destruction. It saved them from the influence of the world. In the same way, in like manner, baptism saves. How did water save? From the world. How does baptism save? From the world. Because of the suffering men would receive in Peter’s day because they made their faith public through baptism, they would have a guilty conscience. Baptism was the answer of a good conscience. Baptism separated them from the world like it did Noah and his family. The baptism that saved them was an immersion of the entire world. It wasn’t a sprinkling.

    Regarding 1 Corinthians 10:2, I’ve never thought of it as a proof text for immersion. I look at the plain passages for that. Like the children of Israel were baptized into Moses (and it is only water baptism up to that point in 1 Corinthians—look at chapter one), so are we all baptized into one body (1 Cor 12:13), which too is water baptism. We are identified with the body of Christ, the church (local, see 1 Cor 12:27). See the Schleitheim Confession. This is exactly how Michael Sattler uses 1 Corinthians 12:13 as well. When they passed through the Red Sea, they identified with Moses. They weren’t sprinkled or poured upon then. They were below the surface of the water, however, two walls of it on each side of them, which fits better with immersion as a picture, then it does for sprinkling or pouring.

    On the Ethiopian, we know only that he was reading Isaiah. We have no basis for him reading Isaiah 52:15. And when he asks about water baptism, it was likely because he was just in Judea and he knew about the baptism of John. We shouldn’t assume that Philip was explaining sprinkling to him and that’s why he wanted Philip to baptize him. I believe we can only speculate why, since baptism isn’t in Isaiah, Paul. My speculation has been that Philip would have explained the gospel and then referred to baptism, just like Peter did in Acts 2:38. Baptism was not for the remission of sins—that was what repentance was for. But out of those whom he called to repent (plural), each individual (singular) who did repent, is commanded to be baptized (3rd singular, imperative). That also fits Acts 2:41 too. They that gladly received his Word were baptized. Can infants receive His Word? Of course not, which is why they shouldn’t be a candidate for baptism.

    When you paint, do you immerse or dip the brush into paint, or do you sprinkle or pour paint on the brush? That doesn’t work and after those two texts, that one and the one that is very appropriate to our discussion with the example of Naiman, you’ve got to revert to the Apocrypha, which you should put very little credence in.

    We have a picture of death in burial. You don’t bury living people. A person must die first. That is the importance of the burial part of the death, burial, and resurrection. The death is implied in the burial. It is plain evidence of death. No swooning. We are buried with Him in baptism and raised out of the water in the likeness of His resurrection.

    An important aspect to baptism is that it must be baptism, that is, immersion. It is a picture. The better parallel is, “what would be wrong with using cheese and coca-cola for the Lord’s Table?” And why not change the recipe for the incense at the altar of incense? That is what Nadab and Abihu did, and God put them to death. And why not worship God in the high places? Scripture is sufficient and God is technical in His character.

    Why would the Eunuch think much water was necessary for sprinkling? He would say, see here is your canteen, what doth hinder me from being sprinkled?

    Thanks for the discussion Paul. The absence of one example of sprinkling and the convoluted attempts to connect various passages to read in (eisegete) sprinkling, I believe sink your ship, at least rain on your parade, and the clear example of immersion with Jesus should be enough, since it is an actual example for us to understand baptism. And it isn’t some far off example. It is THE example.

  16. July 18, 2009 at 10:05 pm


    Thanks for your comment and for reading over here at Jackhammer. Peter of Waldo might seem like from where the Waldensians got their name, but that is a very old misunderstanding. It would like saying that Jesus was called a Nazarene because he took the Nazarite vow. The Waldensians were people of the valleys, valley dwellers, or Valdese. That unfortunately makes your Peter Waldo material moot.


    It doesn’t surprise me to hear that Baptists became Calvinistic, speaking of the TULIP. John T. Christian in his History of Baptists says that Baptists were more Calvinistic than Arminian.

  17. July 18, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Interesting article in relations to what I wrote in my above post.

  18. July 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Dear Paul Ferguson,

    I am thankful for the good things you stand for, such as your recent comment about Biblical worship (which was excellent). I am thankful for the Bible Presbyterian stand on the KJV–it was interesting that in their last issue of The Burning Bush they referenced both Pastor Brandenburg’s blog on the epistemology of multiple version onlyism and my paper on Baptists and the TR.

    Concerning the question in the post here:

    The metaphorical language for Spirit baptism does not necessarily exclude any locative sense in Spirit baptism, nor does Christ’s pouring Him out from heaven exclude the Spirit’s “fill[ing] all the house where [the 120 in the church] were sitting” (Acts 2:2) and thus immersing the church in His overwhelmingly powerful presence. To quote B. H. Carroll:

    “The baptism in the Spirit was a figurative baptism. I mean the word baptism is used in a figurative and not in a literal sense. . . . If I immerse one in a creek or baptistery, that is a literal baptism; but if I see a friend of mine in distress, in deep anxiety, groaning, sighing, weeping, full of pain, no ease, no peace, no hope, I say he is baptized in suffering. That is figurative. Just as the Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘I have a baptism to be baptized in, and now am I straitened till it be accomplished[!]’ I have suffering to pass through so deep and overwhelming that you may compare the suffering to an immersion in suffering. That is a figurative use of the word. If one dip another in a tank of oil, that is a literal baptism, a literal use of the word. But if it be one whose notes of hand are all over the community, whose property is all mortgaged, who has no realty that is not already encumbered, I say that man is baptized in debt, that is a figurative use of the word. He is overwhelmed in debt.
    Now when John the Baptist says, ‘I baptize you in water,’ that is a literal baptism, ‘but Jesus will baptize you in the Holy Ghost,’ that is a figurative use of the word. The Holy Ghost is not a liquid element, but you may use the word figuratively; when they are in the house, and the sound that indicates His presence fills that house, and they themselves are filled with the Spirit, permeated throughout by the indwelling Spirit of God, figuratively you say that is a baptism in the Holy Ghost. That figurative use of the word is one of the commonest known to the Greek classics. I could cite you a hundred instances of it. So that the baptism in water, that is the literal; the other, that is the figurative. And because the literal is a burial, a sinking out of sight, so an overwhelming influence may figuratively be said to be a baptism in that influence.” (pgs. 42-43, The Three Baptisms, B. H. Carroll, elec. acc. in the AGES Christian Library Series, Vol. 11, B. H. Carroll Collection. Rio, WI: 2006).

    Also, since some of the arguments you made (“they went into the water doesn’t prove immersion because it would require the one doing the baptizing to be immersed as well”) do not represent the Baptist position (the “went down into” and “came up out of” show that immersion was practiced, because there was no reason whatever for two people to go down into a river to pour or sprinkle water; they could have done that on the bank, I would encourage you to read “Baptism in Its Mode and Subjects” by Carson, a man who was a paedobaptist minister but came to the truth on the subject. He doesn’t just rely on lexica by unconverted people but shows clearly that baptdizo means dip, immerse, and cannot mean pour or sprinkle. If you write a refutation of him, or you are able to reference someone else who does so, I would be interested in seeing what you have to say on it. Otherwise, you are simply employing arguments that have already been refuted. The book is available at, specifically at:

    I think it is interesting that nobody seems to want to try to defend the comments of Calvin about baptismal regeneration. Based on what he said, Calvin believed a false gospel and was unconverted.

    Concerning John the Baptist leaping in the womb, I had written in my book “Heaven Only For the Baptized” at my website:

    Presbyterian and Reformed confessions either affirm baptismal regeneration or, at best, do not require the children of believers to ever come to a point where they see themselves as lost, hell-bound sinners and turn to Christ in repentance and faith. As “covenant children” they are assumed to be saved already, and so grow up religious but lost. The Reformed often teach that it is a “sin against God’s covenant . . . that covenant, baptized, Reformed young people are made the objects of an ‘evangelism’ that treats them as unsaved sinners who must be saved by accepting Christ. If this is what is meant by the conversion of the child, Reformed parents and the Reformed church reject it in the name of the covenant of God sealed to their children in infancy” (pg. 21-22, The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers, David J. Engelsma, South Holland, IL: Evangelism Committee, Protestant Reformed Church, n. d.). The idea that young children, infants, or even preborn children, who are yet unable to discern between right and wrong (Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 7:16; Jonah 4:11; Romans 9:11) and who “have not known any thing” (Deuteronomy 31:13; cf. Ecclesiastes 6:5) can be born again (a consequence of believing the gospel, John 1:12) and be converted is false. In Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul tells the church at Ephesus, which certainly had infants and young children in it (cf. Ephesians 6:1), that “we all” who are now made alive in Christ at one time were “children of wrath,” conducting ourselves “in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” Since infants unable to know right from wrong cannot serve sinful lusts in their minds, and all those made alive in Christ at one time conducted themselves in the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, men are only born again after they have reached an age where they are able to so conduct themselves. The Reformed argue that John the Baptist and Jeremiah were regenerated in the womb because the former leaped when Mary came to visit (Luke 1:44; cf. Luke 1:15 and endnote 37) and the latter was known by God in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Someone who does not have a presupposed theological conclusion he wishes to defend at all costs knows that leaping, whether in the womb or elsewhere, or having God know about one and have a plan for one’s life, is very far from the new birth—indeed, one can have far more than these things without regeneration (Matthew 13:20-21). The Reformed simply need to justify the human tradition and abominable heresy of infant baptism that they retained when they left Catholicism.

    Let’s agree with Calvin, Luther, etc. on baptism’s mode:

    The founders of the Protestant denominations knew that New Testament baptism was immersion. Luther stated, in his sermon on baptism in 1518, that “baptism is . . . when we dip anything wholly in water, that it is completely covered over. . . . it should be thus, and would be right . . . [for] the child or any one who is to be baptized, [to] be completely sunk down into the water, and dipt again and drawn out” (Opera Lutheri, I. 319, Folio ed., quoted on pg. 108, Christian, J. T., A History of the Baptists, vol. 1, Texarkana, TX: Bogard Press, 1922.). Calvin wrote that “it is evident that the term baptise means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the primitive Church” (Calvin, Institutes, 4:15:19, trans. Henry Beveridge). Commenting on Acts 8:38, “they went down into the water,” Calvin wrote, “Here we see the rite used among the men of old time in baptism; for they put all the body into the water.” John Wesley, commenting on Romans 6:4, states that the “ancient manner of baptizing [was] by immersion” (John Wesley’s Notes on the Old and New Testaments, 1767, electronic ed. Sulu D. Kelley, 1997, quoted in the Online Bible software by Ken Hamel).

  19. July 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I’m probably going to get hammered for raising this issue. . .please please take this in the spirit in which it is asked. I wouldn’t ask if I weren’t so curious about the reasoning behind some things here (sometimes I wonder if I should say anything, but at the end of these posts is says, “leave a comment” – so I say, “hey, why not?”)

    I’ve followed this discussion with great interest. As a Baptist, I’m strong on immersion for believers and like to see it defended to strengthen my own conviction (I believe Kent did a good job of that), and being Reformed I also want to have an open heart to these matters and see the exegetical ground of the other side (PS likewise defended his position well).

    Though these two positions do seem irreconciable and I don’t wish to diminish the tension between the two, why is there such an obvious comradery between the two sides, a chumminess that is not given to us who are not KJVO? It seems allegiance to the TR (which has been mentioned as a basis for that comradery) trumps other disagreements. I don’t have anyone coming over to my blog saying, “I appreciate you stand against Catholicism, Islam, and Atheism, and the fact that we agree on baptism or Calvinism [depending on who comes over] but I disagree with you textual position, and here’s why, brother. . .” Instead, I get treated with being “post enlightenment”, I’m an “intrepid anti-KJVer”; I’m “playing a game”; and, well, there’s been a lot more heavy stuff thrown our way at the group kjvo blog, some of which has been deleted (and that I’m sure no one here would say).

    But I raise this because I don’t think it’s isolated to the comments on this blog post. My decidedly anti-calvinistic Bible college had Ian Paisley preach, and justified it with the fact that he’s a TR/KJV defender. The president is now trying to help churches in England where the majority of pastors are reformed Baptists, and he mentions this to pastors in the US, again, justifying his cooperation with them because “they’re all TR men.” And recently, I was at a church where a guy told me he likes to attend Presbyterian churches and some others, but he’s a separatist. I asked him how he can reconcile attending a church that sees baptism differently (both in mode and significance), but totally shun a church that uses a different Bible or has a drum set. He basically equivocated on the subject.

    Would it be fair to say that this is an example of inconsistency? Because I’ll be the first to admit there’s areas in which I’m inconsistent. We all draw lines somewhere, even if we say we don’t. But I’m not of the camp that says every doctrine is equal in weight and separates based on eschatology or Bible versions. And I know that there’s separation going on. But, in all fairness, could we be treated with that same kindness, or are we going to be continually called “fake Calvinists” and “worldly”?

  20. PS Ferguson
    July 20, 2009 at 1:32 am


    Kent can speak for himself on why we see the TR as such a defining line in recognition of someone as a separatist. For me, I thought I made it clear concerning issues like baptism when I stated “All sides need to realize that others have some exegetical biblical grounds for their positions (unlike the Critical Text people), however mistaken.” I have a spiritual kinship with separated TR men like Kent, David Cloud and your former President Clarence Sexton. I do not have this with Kevin Bauder or J. Ligon Duncan as they share a common antipathy or indifference to the presuppositional and historic foundations of the Scriptural text of my faith. We see Baptists as “wetter but not better.”

    There is no exegetical argument for the CT or “Contemporary Christian music” (an oxymoron!). The CT advocates simply ignore the Bible and look to apostate and Romanist textual critics to identify the Words of God. Their position is not some imaginative or honest attempt to follow the truth where it leads, but radical interpretations of biblical texts based on Enlightenment premises. However, the preservation promises are clear to those that are willing to accept their conclusions. The objections to the doctrine of perfect preservation are rooted in philosophical pre-commitments and not exegetical concerns.


    We are delighted to use your material and that of Kent’s on the TR issue. It fits with the Scriptures and the historic position of the true Church. I had hoped not to revisit the issue of baptism in Acts but I don’t want to be accused of running away. The Acts account is a very powerful refutation of the immersionist position as there we see Christ’s baptismal work (see Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 2:33; 1 Cor. 12:13), as Robert Reymond states (I apologise for his CT as he is a BJU graduate!),

    “by which he baptizes the elect by or with his Spirit, is invariably described in terms of the Spirit “coming upon” (Acts 1:8, 19:6), being “poured out upon” (Acts 2:17, 33), or “falling upon” (Acts 10:44; 11:15). Note also Romans 5:5: “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Now what work does the outward ordinance of baptism signify and seal if not the Savior’s spiritual baptismal work? After all, no other saving work is termed “baptism” in the New Testament epistles. Therefore, if the ordinance of baptism is to signify Christ’s baptismal work, which is uniformly described in terms of affusion, then it follows that the ordinance should reflect the affusionary pattern of Christ’s baptismal work.”

    BH Carroll can talk about the figurative usage to the cows come home, but whether it is a figure or simply a literal picture the same problem remains – the Bible states that a “pouring” is a figurative type of baptism! You are happy to jump on the statements of “going into the water” and build a system of theology from that implication despite the fact that the New Testament never describes the act of baptism as going down into or coming up out of water. That is the obstacle that Baptists can never overcome. The syntax of the NT in describing the act of baptism, whatever mode was being employed, always simply narrates a separate act that followed upon the going down into and preceded the coming up out of the water. To build an argument on probable mode on an argument from silence (which is what you are effectively doing) has no more binding validity than me pointing to the fact that the Ethiopian was probably reading Isa 52:15. This coupled with the fact that the author of the Book of Hebrews uses the noun baptismos, or baptism, to describe Old Testament baptisms by pouring or sprinkling. In Hebrews 9:10 the “divers washings” of the OT were called in the inspired account baptismos. This is clearly a sprinkling and just to clarify the author of Hebrews cites in Hebrews 9:13 the passage in Numbers 19:17-18. In this Old Testament passage, water was applied by means of sprinkling which the author of Hebrews calls a baptism.

    Kent tries to get round my point that immersion does fulfill the alleged pattern of baptism in Romans 6:2–6 and Colossians 2:11–12 by arguing that burial implies a death. However, this does not adequately modally reflect our crucifixion (which precedes death!) with Christ, which is one of the four aspects of our union with Christ which Paul mentions in the Romans passage. To cite Reymond again,

    “We should no more single out our union with Christ in his burial and resurrection and make these two aspects of our union with him the pattern for the mode of baptism than we should appeal to Galatians 3:27 (“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ,” see also Col. 3:9–14) and argue on the basis of its statement that baptism should be carried out by requiring the new Christian to don a white robe, that is, by a “baptism by donning.””

    Kent also tries to deflect my argument on the indifference to many of the aspects of the Lord’s Supper by implying that my view would allow us to utilize cheese and coca-cola. He himself knows that there are other Scriptural principles that guide us not to indulge in such a frivolous approach. Nevertheless, he is inconsistent in making such an issue of the mode of baptism compared to the pictures involved in the mode of the Lord’s Supper (such as the unleavened bread or the shared cup). To point out a few: The mode of the original Lord’s Supper was administered only to men while reclining on their elbows on couches at a table. Also, unleavened bread was used from a common loaf and a common cup during the evening hours. If the example of Christ is at stake here why are the incidental details surrounding the mode deemed unimportant in Baptist churches?

    BTW, here is what Calvin said:

    “Whether the person baptised is to be wholly immersed, and that whether once or thrice, or whether he is only to be sprinkled with water, is not of the least consequence: churches should be at liberty to adopt either according to the diversity of climates” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.15.19).

  21. July 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Dear Paul,

    Thank you for your kind words on the areas where we agree.
    When I read your arguments for pouring, I can’t help but think as I read each of them, “Carson dealt with that and blew it out of the water.” Have you ever read a single book length apologetic for the Baptist position, such as the classic work on baptism in its mode and subjects that I linked to earlier? I don’t see any need to reply to arguments that are extensively refuted in what I have already posted a link to. If someone has written a paedobaptist refutation of Carson, I actually would be quite interested in reading it. You did not admit that you misrepresented the Baptist argument from going into and coming out of the water; you simply changed your counterattack to say it was simply an “inference,” although your own Westminster Confession says that what is a good and necessary consequence of explicit Biblical statements are just as binding as the explicit statements.
    As for the Lord’s Supper analogies, surely an understanding of the Regulative Principle, even as expounded in the Westminster Confession, would help you with that.
    I notice that a dead silence about the clear quotations from Calvin affirming baptismal regeneration has been maintained on your part. Will you join us in denouncing “God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption . . . whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified . . . forgiveness, which at our first regeneration we receive by baptism alone . . . forgiveness has reference to baptism. . . . In baptism, the Lord promises forgiveness of sins” (Institutes, 4:17:1, 4:15:3, 4, 15)? Is this a false gospel, or will you defend these statements? I am glad that Bible Presbyterians tend to hold to the gospel instead of to traditional Presbyterianism. Will you obey the Biblical commands to expose false teachers by name and expose Calvin’s false gospel?
    The quote you made from Reymond said baptism was a “seal” of salvation, which is what the Westminster Confession that you hold to (as I recall) likewise affirms. (I have no problem with “sign”—immersion is a great sign of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ). To quote from my paper “Were the Reformers Heretics?” on my website:
    The Scriptural uses of the words “sign” and “seal” give no support whatever to the idea that baptism is a vehicle to convey saving grace. A Biblical “sign” was by no means a method of bestowing grace that led to the forgiveness of sin. The censers of false worshippers who were burned by the fire of God and eternally damned were a “sign unto the children of Israel” (Numbers 16:38), but they neither saved those that worshipped with them nor any other Israelite from hell. No use of “sign” in either the Old or New Testament provides any support whatever to the idea that “signs” are conjoined to justifying grace.
    Nothing in Scripture associates the word “seal” with the communication of saving grace. Romans 4:11 is the only verse that one could even somewhat reasonably attempt to use to defend the Calvinist doctrine from the Bible; one could allege that circumcision is a “seal” of grace, that the sacrament of infant baptism is equivalent to circumcision, and that, therefore, infant baptism seals or conveys grace to infants. This argument breaks down at many points. First, the verse does not say that circumcision was a seal of grace to Jewish male infants; while circumcision was a “sign” by nature, it is not affirmed to have been a “seal” to all, but only to believing Abraham personally, who received it when he had already been justified by faith. A recognition of this distinction in Romans 4:11 explains the Old Testament use of the word “sign” or “token” (Hebrew ‘oth) in connection to circumcision in general (Genesis 17:11), but the total lack of Old Testament references to the ceremony as a “seal.” Second, the New Testament does not equate circumcision with baptism or state that the latter replaces the former. Third, the Biblical immersion of believers has nothing to do with the ceremonial application of water to infants that Catholics and Protestants claim is baptism. Fourth, when advocates of Reformed theology and other Protestants speak of baptism as a “seal” or vehicle of grace, they use the word in a sense entirely absent in Scripture. None of the appearances of sphragis in the New Testament, or similar words in the Old Testament, indicate that grace is conveyed through a “seal” (Romans 4:11; 1 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Timothy 2:19; Revelation 5:1-2, 5, 9; 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 7:2; 8:1; 9:4).

    Lastly, I would just mention that the article you posted trying to prove that Baptists were Protestants by Dr. Priest from Detroit Baptist Seminary makes some rather questionable assertions. For example, trying to establish a discontinuity between English Baptists and earlier Anabaptism it states:

    To say that Baptists are not Protestants flies in the face of documented evidence to the
    The First London Baptist Confession (1644) title page states that this was a confession of
    “churches which are commonly (though falsly) called Anabaptists.” . . . The General Baptist Confession or Declaration of Faith (1660) was “set forth by many of us,
    who are (falsely) called Ana-Baptists.”

    For Dr. Priest use quotations like this to affirm discontinuity between the earlier Anabaptism and the English Baptists is an amazingly poor argument, because the term “Anabaptist” was a slander, an affirmation that the true churches were “re” baptizing, which they correctly said was a slander—they were not re-baptizing, just baptizing Biblically. To say that the English Baptists were not Anabaptists because they refused the name ignores the fact that the groups Dr. Priest wants to label Anabaptist on the Continent rejected the term “Anabaptist” in exactly the same way—they also said they were not “re-baptizers,” just practicing Biblical baptism! For that matter, the second quote makes it clear that the same slander of “re” baptism was being applied to both the English and Continental (Ana)Baptists.
    When arguments such as the above are made by Dr. Priest, which are of exceedingly poor quality (somewhat like those for pouring for the ordinance of dipping/baptism), his affirmation that a belief in Baptist succession is unscholarly is rather interesting, let us say.
    By the way, you are right that Calvin didn’t care if one was immersed, poured, sprinkled, a believer or a baby, etc. That doesn’t change the quote I posted above where he said that the ancient church baptized by immersion. He knew it, but he didn’t care. We don’t do well to follow him in this, any more than we do in adopting or ignoring or failing to denouce his heresy of conneting baptism and salvation—and saying that nothing is plainer than that baptism ordinarily conveys saving grace and brings “full remission” of sins:

    “We assert that the whole guilt of sin is taken away in baptism, so that the remains of sin still existing are not imputed. That this may be more clear, let my readers call to mind that there is a twofold grace in baptism, for therein both remission of sins and regeneration are offered to us. We teach that full remission is made, but that regeneration is only begun and goes on making progress during the whole of life. Accordingly, sin truly remains in us, and is not instantly in one day extinguished by baptism, but as the guilt is effaced it is null in regard to imputation. Nothing is plainer than this doctrine.” (John Calvin, 1547 Antidote to the Council of Trent, Reply to the 1st Decree of the 5th Session.)

    See more in my paper “Were the Reformers Heretics?” on my website—if you dare—and if you are willing to obey the command to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev 18:4—BTW, isn’t the Whore of Babylon, the “church” of Rome, the “mother of harlots”? Who could these harlots be that she is the mother of? Could they be “churches” that separated from her? BTW, you can only dislike that question if you think eschatology matters—if it is one of those doctrines that is not supposed to be a big deal, so that paedobaptist, amillenialist, historic premillenialist, etc. can all get together, you aren’t allowed to dislike it. I also add in that I ask it because what we don’t think matters, if it is a sin, will turn out to be infinitely evil on the day when we stand before the One whose eyes are like a flame of fire, and Whose feet are like burning brass, and Who has a sharp sword proceeding from His mouth. Better change now then find out we are wrong then.)

  22. Kent Brandenburg
    July 22, 2009 at 12:25 am

    I’m on the road and I can’t get to commenting, but I will. Thanks Thomas for filling in.

  23. Daniel
    July 22, 2009 at 12:37 am


    I have already read that book, as well as over a dozen others on the subject. I actually have one of the rare manuscripts from 1669, L’Histoire Generale des Eglises Vaudoises (I am French). I am their descendant, and this book has been passed down in my family. Most books on the Waldensians point to this manuscript as one of their main sources.

    I also wrote my thesis on the subject.

    It is true that they share many things with Baptists. But again, I think they are like Augustine – the RC church claims him, and so does Calvin and the Protestants.

    There are some very baptistic themes in their theology, I freely concede. I’m not saying that they were “The Reformation” before the Reformation. They were pre-reformers. John Huss was a pure Waldensian. Luther, if I remember correctly, was quite influenced by the Waldensians. And the entire Reformation welcomed them with open arms as their own. I have letters from Luther, de Beze, and several other Reformers saying as much.

    I feel like Reformed and baptists can equally share their heritage. The later Waldensians were very Reformed, the early ones were pre-reformed and more baptistic.

  24. Daniel
    July 22, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Btw, Monastier’s book quotes, and may even be based, upon Leger’s book (the one I mentioned). Whenever they mention “Leger,” they are refering to L’Histoire Generale des Eglises Vaudoises.

    I actually plan to slowly translate it from French to English – it will probably take many years 🙂

  25. PS Ferguson
    July 22, 2009 at 1:26 am


    I note you failed to answer any of my points, especially on Hebrews 9:13 and your inconsistency over the mode of the Lord’s Supper. I have read through Carson and I find him unable to overturn the Biblical exegesis I have set forth in these postings.

    The WCF clearly does not regard an argument from silence as a “good and necessary consequence” in this context and in light of the Scriptures such as Heb 9, as the WCF section on baptism delineates. The bottom line is that no matter how you try you cannot come out with anything better than a probabilistic argument for immersion from the context which is neutered by the whole context of Scripture in respect of ceremonial and spiritual cleansings.

    If I were a “immersionist,” the only logical and consistent exegetical position is to argue that I see immersion as the best representative of the type of baptism and stick with that. To pin all your hopes on an argument from silence leaves you open to the hermeneutical challenge I have just made. It also leaves you with the absurdity of arguing that despite 2,000 years of contrary Church History, non-immersionists have, according to your system, been used to plant thousands of non-NT churches with saved members (but apparently failed the Great Commission!), translate the most outstanding English Bible ever compiled, lead the way in the Sunday School Movement, Global Missions Movement, Defending Inerrancy, Inspiration and Preservation etc. No matter how one spins the Anabaptist Movement they do not resemble IFBers today. It was the Reformation Movement amongst Protestants that changed Europe and swept it in revival. Martin Luther did not take his stand in 1517and bypass the 3rd Independent Baptist Church of Wittenberg as he nailed his theses! The three Great Awakenings were dominated by Non-Immersionists. I could go on…

    I realise that you probably have not had any exposure to arguments from outside IFB circles on this subject – hence your confusion.

    I do not have the time to do a full examination of Calvin’s works. I believe in the doctrines of Grace that Calvin espoused because they are biblically defensible. That is an argument for another day. However, I took the opportunity to quickly glance at Calvin’s commentary on Romans 4:11-12. He said ” we deny that men are justified by baptism, inasmuch as they are justified by the same faith with that of Abraham.”

  26. July 24, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks for the information, Daniel. My position as many other Baptists occurs like this:

    1. We study the Bible.
    2. We get scriptural presuppositions.
    3. We see that God said he would preserve His church.
    4. The usage of “church” is an assembly of believers.
    5. We assume the perpetuity of these assemblies because of the truth of Scripture.
    6. We look at history to see if this has in fact taken place.

    If we can get a clean picture in history, as clean as we would like, that does not debunk the scriptural presuppositions. I can’t make a visible trace back to the Jerusalem church, but I do see assemblies separate from the state church, Roman Catholicism, a line of falsehood, in every century through Christ. Can I trust all the history I read? No. It comes with an agenda many times. Because of that, you can quote people to defend almost any position that you want to take. I am satisfied with a position that reflects scripture and has enough historic backing in light of the presuppositions that I believe.


    I noticed how that you talked to me when you talked to Thomas. That looked like maybe some words after I had the “last word.” That’s fine, but I don’t think we have anything else to say to each other on this one. Thanks for visiting.


    I don’t want to rip you off with my comment, because yours was pretty long and my answer is going to be short. I think I’m friendly to you. The stronger tie with P.S., however, is, as you have observed, due to the preservation of Scripture issue. Here’s how it works for me in enumerated order.
    1. God inspired Scripture perfectly.
    2. Authority of Scripture comes from perfection, the immutability of His counsel, without which we have no hope (see the end of Heb 6).
    3. God said He would preserve Scripture perfectly too.
    4. Authority is too tied to preservation.
    5. Without preservation, we lose out on authority, which disrupts all the doctrines and gives uncertainty.

    You may argue that it doesn’t give you uncertainty. I still wouldn’t accept that. I look at it this way. At least we have a Bible with P. S. Ferguson. We can disagree on what it is saying, but that is not as serious to me as alterations of the words themselves, from which we get the doctrines. And it seems that the people that have this kind of assurance are more dogmatic overall. We end up with a very similar world view as a result. So if you are feeling love for P. S. that you don’t get, when he is different than me on this big issue, that explains it.

    I think I’ve been clear on how important I believe baptism is. It would seem to me that there should be some concern about the gospel as we read what Calvin wrote, and being objective.

  27. July 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Dear Paul Fergson,

    You wrote:

    I note you failed to answer any of my points, especially on Hebrews 9:13 and your inconsistency over the mode of the Lord’s Supper. I have read through Carson and I find him unable to overturn the Biblical exegesis I have set forth in these postings.

    My response:

    I did not fail to reply. Like I said, Carson answered everything you said, so there was no need to reinvent the wheel. If you actually answer what he said, I would respond further. If you do not, I see no need to do so. I am perfectly content for someone to read your post and then read his book.

    BTW, in your paragraph about the most outstanding English Bible, I would encourage you to examine J. T. Christian’s History of Baptists, on my website, about Tyndale. The KJV is 90% Tyndale Bible, and Tyndale had relatives who were Baptists, and he was either a Baptist or very baptistic.

    You said, “Martin Luther did not take his stand in 1517and bypass the 3rd Independent Baptist Church of Wittenberg as he nailed his theses!”

    On the contrary, Luther said that the Anabaptists had been around for centuries before the Reformation. Do you defend Luther as well? If you wish to do so, could you please respond to the many statements in my paper on the heresies of the reformers where Luther plainly, plainly adopts baptismal regeneration? If Luther’s gospel is true, my friend, then you and I are both on our way to hell, for we both reject baptismal regeneration.

    You wrote:

    “I realise that you probably have not had any exposure to arguments from outside IFB circles on this subject – hence your confusion.”

    This is quite a statement, in light of the fact that, having stated that you had heard all the Baptist arguments before, proceeded to say that we believed that Philip and the eunuch both went underwater in the act of immersion, when our argument from the text is nothing of the kind. It is also very interesting since I have taken courses at Westminster Seminary at a PhD level–on Reformation texts that dealt with subjects such as those we are talking about–and had my Presbyterian, extremely scholarly professor tell me, when I asked him if Luther believed in baptismal regeneration, respond “of course.”

    I became an IFB because theirs are the true churches. I did not come from a Christian background.

    You said:

    “I do not have the time to do a full examination of Calvin’s works.”

    Everyone who reads this blog–please note that THIS is the response to the obvious, clear, plain as day quotes by Calvin teaching baptism is connected to receiving salvation.

    I hope, my friend, that you will get some time soon, because it might be good to find out if Calvin was converted before telling everyone how great he was.

    Your quote on Calvin denying justification by baptism shows that you do not understand the nature of the connection between baptism and salvation taught by Calvin. In a way, this is good, because, thankfully, Bible Presbyterians seem to reject Calvin’s heretical false gospel, just as they reject the baptismal regeneration taught by a goodly number of those who were involved in the creation of the Westminster Confession of Faith. However, in so doing, you are not consistent with your theology.

    Your arguments for pouring were also not consistent. If your biblical arguments were correct, immersion would be wrong, and only pouring would be correct. (After all, we all pour dirt on people’s heads when we bury them). But that is not the position you actually were advocating.

    I will, Paul, if you deal carefully with what Carson says, respond to your argument. Otherwise, I do not plan on commenting any further.

  28. July 28, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I should have said that Lutherans said that the Anabaptists had been around for hundreds of years before the Reformation (as a minimum), not that Luther himself said this; I don’t have documentation on Luther himself, but that Lutherans did in general have this view is documented in works such as “Three Witnesses for the Baptists” by Curtis Pugh, which is available on the web.

    If the Anabaptists were modern Mennonites, why did the Lutherans anathematize them for believing in eternal security?

    The Augsburg Confession, Article 12:
    [WE] condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost.

  29. July 30, 2009 at 6:02 am

    This is a second hand reference, but a good authority. From Jarrel’s Baptist Church Perpetuity…

    “In 1522 Luther says: “The Anabaptists have been for a long time spreading in
    Germany.” f706 The late E.T. Winkler, D.D., quoting the above, says:
    “Nay, Luther even traced the Anabaptists back to the days of John Huss, and
    apologetically admits that the eminent reformer was one of them.””

  30. dt
    August 18, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Calvin used the term ‘regeneration’ differently than Reformed theologians subsequently came to use the term.

    Also associating Calvin or Calvinists with state churches is incredibly in error. Cartoonishly. Lutheran churches yes.

  31. August 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Here’s a guy who is pro-Calvin who believes the same cartoonish belief as me about Calvin.

    He writes: “Of course, as we have seen, we do not agree with all his positions. Great as he was, we believe his blind spots are especially in his embracing the Constantinian vision of the established state church with its persecution of heretics, the one true church encompassing all in the community, a now discredited view, with its illegitimate child, infant baptism.”

    Google John Calvin and then state church to find dozens of those who agree. Lots of cartooning going on.

  32. dt
    August 19, 2009 at 3:48 am

    The writer obviously thinks Calvin and the church in Geneva tried and put Servetus to death. He’s historically ignorant. People operate on propaganda they get from Roman Catholic and Arminian sources.

    You can google Calvin and ‘demons’ and see that he confessed to a priest he was a homosexual and had demons inside him. I mean, you can google that if you like…

  33. November 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    The problem is not infant baptisn, Lords supper, or anyother side doctinal issue. The problem is the presentation of the Gospel. Calvin was dead on correct because he took the word of God and didnt twist it to fit his doctrine. The Bible clearly states that man hates God, and loves sin (God is light and in Him is no darkness, but men love the darkness for their deeds are wicked.) Scripture clearly state that mans heart is desperately wicked (Jer.17:9) that he is dead in his trespasses and sins, that every imagination of his heart is evil continually, and it repented God that He had made man, and grieved Him in His heart(Gen. 6:5). That ALL men are born with a carnal mind and are born an enemy of God. That the wrath of God abides upon all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men (Rom.1). The bible states that the natural man (Un regenerated ) receives not the things of the spirit of God, NOR CAN HE. For they are foolishness unto him. and yet the IFB movement tell men that they are saved because they said a prayer. They stand in the back of the church for 5 minutes after a service, and run through 4 things God wants you to know, and then if that person agrees and maybe even cries, they “popishly” declare him saved. The doctrines and teachings you have spent so much time and megabytes waisting is useless. For unless a man has been regenerated by the spirit of God, it is all useless. Stop arguing KJV, and What clothes, and music to wear, and how old you need to be to be baptized, and study your bible and search the scripture. For that was the greatest movement of Calvin. and that was ordained by God, for the world has clearly watered down the slaughter of the son of God into…are you a sinner? have u ever stolen a pen?would you like to receive Jesus and go to heaven.?

  1. July 18, 2009 at 10:49 am
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