Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Paedobaptism and Credo-Baptism: Visible and Invisible Church
A Presbyterian Catechising, John Phillip, 1847
I continued our Sunday afternoon series last Lord’s Day through Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism, looking at Question 79:
Q 79: What is the duty of such as are rightly baptized?
A: It is the duty of such as are rightly baptized, to give up themselves to some particular and orderly Church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
This is a place where the Baptist Catechism parts ways with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, upon which it is based. The WSC does not contain a question like this, because it carries different assumptions about what baptism means and who is a proper candidate for baptism.
The more I reflected on this, the more it came it to me that one’s views on baptism also reflect how one views his participation in both the visible and invisible church. Here is how I tried to explain it Sunday:
The Paedobaptist model:
1. You are part of the visible church at birth due to connection to believing parents.
2. You are baptized as an infant in recognition of your membership in the visible church.
3. You may or may not one day come to faith. If and when you should be converted and profess faith, you become part of the invisible church.
The Credo-Baptist model:
1. You profess faith in Christ and so join the invisible church.
2. You are baptized in recognition of your membership in the invisible church.
3. You give yourself up to membership in a visible church.
I concluded by holding that the Credo-Baptist model simply stands on firmer Biblical ground. All we have to do is look at the book of Acts and see the experience and practice of the first Christians. After they heard the gospel, repented of their sins, and believed in Christ (so becoming part of the invisible church), they were then added to the visible church (cf. Acts 2:37-42, 46-47).