Friday, August 10, 2007

Piper and Grudem wrangle over baptism and church membership

John Piper had an interesting post on his Desiring God site yesterday (August 9) responding to Wayne Grudem on the issue of baptism and church membership [Thanks for the tip Howard!].
Grudem has apparently rewritten part of his Systematic Theology in its latest edition to frown on churches not taking a clear stand on baptismal standards for church membership. Piper pleads, "But, Wayne, Wayne, Wayne, why did you rewrite page 983?" Piper makes the same claim he has made earlier that to exclude a person from Baptist church membership who has only experienced infant baptism is "virtually the same as excommunication."
He also goes on to say that (if his church would allow it) he would welcome paedobaptists like Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, R. C. Sproul, or Philip Ryken into membership.
The site also posted Grudem's response. Grudem reminds Piper that denial of church membership is not excommunication. He also makes clear that baptism is required for church membership and states clearly that he would not support a church which practices an either-or policy with regard to infant baptism or believer's baptism. I wish he had asked how the paedobaptist luminaries Piper listed would feel about being included in membership but excluded from eldership in Piper's plan.
I was a bit brothered, however, by Grudem's description of his own church's practice that allows non-members to lead home fellowship groups and his dismissal of churches that exclude those who have not experienced believer's baptism from the Lord's table as a practice of "very few of the most strict Baptist churches."
For my much longer and detailed response to Piper's maverick ecclesiological views, listen to this audio file.

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