Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Warfield on qualifications for baptism and membership

I love this quote from Benjamin B. Warfield on baptism:

If we demand anything like demonstrative evidence of actual participation in Christ before we baptize, no infant, who by reason of years is incapable of affording signs of his union with Christ can be thought a proper subject of the rite….The vice of this system, however, is that it attempts the impossible. No man can read the heart. As a consequence, it follows that no one, however rich his manifestation of Christian graces, is baptized on the basis of infallible knowledge of his relation to Christ. All baptism is inevitably administered on the basis not of knowledge but of presumption.

This is the heart of one of my core points with regard to church membership in general (after all, your baptism IS your admission into church membership): that no qualification beyond the public profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can or should be required. (See my booklet, Grafted Into The Vine: rethinking biblical church membership, for more on how this is developed in Scripture.)

Good stuff, B.B.!

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