Report of the Study Committee on Questions Relating to the Validity ...

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Report of the Study Committee on Questions Relating to the Validity ...

POSITION PAPERS[text begins below]15th General Assembly, 1987, Appendix P, p. 416-422.APPENDIX PTHE REPORT OFTHE STUDY COMMITTEE ON QUESTIONSRELATING TO THE VALIDITY OF CERTAIN BAPTISMSPREFACE TO THE REPORTIn accordance with ong>theong> action ong>ofong> ong>theong> last General Assembly, ong>theong> ong>Studyong>ong>Committeeong> is resubmitting its report to this General Assembly.A key factor involved in ong>theong> postponement by ong>theong> last Assembly ong>ofong> action onthis report was an awareness ong>ofong> ong>theong> need for ong>theong> elders ong>ofong> ong>theong> denomination to haveadequate time to study ong>theong> report. The ong>Committeeong> ong>theong>refore thought it wise, now thatong>theong> Assembly has had adequate time to study ong>theong> report, to re-focus on that which ong>theong>Assembly has studied and to continue to postpone introducing anoong>theong>r question with itsnew study material until this most basic question is resolved.Not only did ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> think it wise to refocus only on ong>theong> first and mostimportant question, it was also prohibited from conducting study sessions on ong>theong>remaining question by ong>theong> cost restraints placed on it by ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> onAdministration complying with ong>theong> actions ong>ofong> ong>theong> last General Assembly. Thus ong>theong>ong>Committeeong> respectfully re-submits its original report and ong>ofong>fers its recommendations foradoption. Work on ong>theong> remaining question will be aided by knowing ong>theong> mind ong>ofong> ong>theong>Assembly on ong>theong> Scriptural argument undergirding ong>theong> ong>Committeeong>'s recommendationsconcerning ong>theong> first main question.In re-submitting its report and recommendations, ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> has made somechanges which it calls to ong>theong> attention ong>ofong> ong>theong> Assembly. Oong>theong>r than ong>theong>se changes, ong>theong>report and its recommendations are ong>theong> same as that which was submitted last year.Some revisions have been made to ong>theong> paragraph reflecting ong>theong> historical survey ong>ofong> ong>theong>actions ong>ofong> American Presbyterian Churches. They consist ong>ofong> ong>theong> removal ong>ofong> referenceto a judicial case, because ong>theong> significance ong>ofong> ong>theong> action is technically ambiguous, andvery slight editorial changes that this removal necessitated.The major change is ong>theong> inclusion ong>ofong> anoong>theong>r recommendation (numbered in thisreport as 5). This recommendation was necessitated by ong>theong> fact that a question, posedby ong>theong> Western Carolinas Presbytery, has not been answered by ong>theong> General Assemblyas ong>theong> study had originally assumed. The ong>Committeeong> is recommending ong>theong> answer© PCA Historical Center, 2003. 79[Minutes, 15th GA (1987), pp. 416-422]


PCA DIGESToriginally proposed both by ong>theong> Sub-ong>Committeeong> on Judicial Business and ong>theong>ong>Committeeong> ong>ofong> Commissioners on Judicial Business. This additional recommendationhas triggered a partial rewriting ong>ofong> ong>theong> second introductory paragraph to make referenceto ong>theong> new recommendation and at ong>theong> same time to clarify ong>theong> paragraph.With ong>theong>se words ong>ofong> explanation, ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> re-submits its report revised asindicated above.THE REPORTThe ong>Studyong> ong>Committeeong> has had committed to it certain questions raised by GracePresbytery and by Western Carolinas Presbytery, and also ong>theong> proposed answers toong>theong>se questions ong>ofong>fered by ong>theong> Subcommittee on Judicial Business, a minority ong>ofong> thatSubcommittee, and by ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> on Commissioners. The questions which thiscommittee was asked to deal with can be essentially reduced to two: (I) What, ifanything, would make ong>theong> baptism ong>ofong> a church invalid as a Christian baptism?, and (II)Has one who was presented for baptism or christening by non-Christian parents, or onewho was baptized as a supposed convert but without real saving faith, received christianbaptism?The ong>Studyong> ong>Committeeong> adjudged that its task was restricted to ong>theong>se two itemsand it adjudges that ong>theong> answer to ong>theong>se two questions will answer all but one ong>ofong> ong>theong>questions ong>ofong> ong>theong> two presbyteries. This report addresses itself to ong>theong> first question andpropose three recommendations (1,2,3) to respond to this first question. A subsequentreport will address itself to ong>theong> second question after furong>theong>r study has attempted toreach a consensus on ong>theong> understanding ong>ofong> what ong>theong> Scripture says on this question(recommendation 6). The ong>Committeeong> considers ong>theong> only oong>theong>r two questions raisedabout baptism to be adequately answered by responses on which both ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> ong>ofong>Commissioners on Judicial Business and ong>theong> Sub-ong>Committeeong> on Judicial Business haveconcurred. The ong>Studyong> ong>Committeeong> is recommending ong>theong>se proposed responses asanswers to ong>theong>se oong>theong>r two questions (recommendations 4 and 5).I. Is ong>theong> baptism ong>ofong> certain "church" bodies invalid?The committee approached this question constrained by ong>theong> biblical teachingEph. 4:5; cf. Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith xxviii, 7) that ong>theong>re is one baptism. Thusit addresses ong>theong> question ong>ofong> valid or invalid baptism not as one ong>ofong> rebaptism. Inapproaching ong>theong> subject ong>ofong> a valid or invalid baptism, ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> was instructed byong>theong> analogy ong>ofong> Acts 19:1-7. In this account, ong>theong> disciples ong>ofong> John ong>theong> Baptist are notrebaptized with a second Christian baptism, even though ong>ofong> course one may speak insome sense ong>ofong> a rebaptism, since ong>theong>y had been baptized into John ong>theong> Baptist's baptism,but when baptized by Paul in ong>theong> name ong>ofong> ong>theong> Lord Jesus ong>theong>y were baptized for ong>theong> firsttime with Christian baptism. Even though ong>theong> baptism ong>ofong> John is not regarded asinvalid but as not ong>theong> baptism ong>ofong> Jesus, this passage does provide ong>theong> church anexample, by analogy, ong>ofong> evaluating a previous baptism and ong>theong>n proceeding to Christianbaptism if that former baptism is not regarded as Christian. It should thus be agreedthat it is an appropriate act to administer Christian baptism if a previous baptism isregarded as invalid, and it should also be agreed that this is not a second Christianbaptism or a rebaptism.http://www.pcanet.org/history/pca/2-78.pdf 80


POSITION PAPERSIn conducting its study ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> sought to be guided by our supremestandard, ong>theong> Scriptures, and by our subordinate standards, ong>theong> Westminster Confessionand Catechisms, which we have sincerely received and adopted as containing ong>theong>system ong>ofong> doctrine ong>ofong> ong>theong> Scriptures. Since ong>theong> Scriptures do not deal directly with ourquestion, we have followed ong>theong> hermeneutical rule ong>ofong> our Confession ong>ofong> deducing "goodand necessary" consequences (Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith, I, 6) from ong>theong>Scriptures in solving this question and have especially utilized ong>theong>se consequencesalready drawn by our confessional standards.In addition, we have consulted writers on ong>theong> subject from various ages ong>ofong> ong>theong>church, study reports in various presbyteries ong>ofong> our own and sister Presbyterianchurches, and we have reflected again on a number ong>ofong> concrete situations ranging fromong>theong> ancient Donatist controversy up to and including ong>theong> concrete situations in a localcongregation.In particular, we have been especially constrained to consider ong>theong> decisions ong>ofong>our spiritual predecessors, i.e., ong>theong> highest courts ong>ofong> American Presbyterian churches(cf. Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith, xxxi, 2) who have dealt with ong>theong> same question.Two considerations guided ong>theong> historical research. The first was to cite ong>theong> actions ong>ofong>"spiritual predecessors." Thus later decisions ong>ofong> main-line Presbyterian bodies whichong>theong> PCA (or ong>theong> RPCES) had left were not cited. The second was to cite decisionswhere ong>theong> assemblies made a judgment on ong>theong> question since ong>theong> presbytery had askedfor such a judgment and ong>theong>refore not to cite any postponement or any decision inwhich ong>theong> assembly simply referred ong>theong> matter back to sessions with or withoutreference to ong>theong> Standards or earlier assembly decisions.In its historical survey, ong>theong> ong>Committeeong> found that with one exception ong>theong>General Assemblies ong>ofong> American Presbyterian churches where making a judgment onong>theong> matter have taken ong>theong> position ong>ofong> non-validity for Roman Catholic baptism. Thiswas done in 1845 by ong>theong> Old School Assembly and ong>theong> reasons given in ong>theong> report haveprevailed until today. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church took ong>theong> same position in1876. The United Presbyterian Church in North America, in various actions from 1869to 1871, took ong>theong> same position. The Presbyterian Church, U.S., commonly referred toas ong>theong> Souong>theong>rn Presbyterian Church, had consistently taken ong>theong> same position ong>ofong> ong>theong>non-validity ong>ofong> Romish baptism. The Souong>theong>rn Church referred to ong>theong> action ong>ofong> ong>theong>General Assembly, Old School, ong>ofong> 1845, but took a full action ong>ofong> its own in 1871. TheAssembly ong>ofong> 1884 reaffirmed ong>theong> action ong>ofong> 1871 and ong>theong> Assembly ong>ofong> 1914 declined torescind its action ong>ofong> 1884. The one exception is ong>theong> action ong>ofong> ong>theong> 1981 Synod ong>ofong> ong>theong>Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, espousing and reiterating ong>theong>objections ong>ofong> Charles Hodge to ong>theong> decision ong>ofong> ong>theong> 1845 General Assembly.As this historical survey has indicated, ong>theong> question ong>ofong> ong>theong> non-validity ong>ofong>baptism has ong>ofong>ten become ong>theong> question ong>ofong> ong>theong> validity or non-validity ong>ofong> RomanCatholic baptism. In ong>theong> question posed by ong>theong> presbytery this is ong>theong> group first namedand this group was mentioned on ong>theong> assembly floor as that which presents to ourchurches at home and abroad through ong>theong> conversions ong>ofong> previous members ong>theong> mostpressing pastoral concern. These historical and pastoral concerns, coupled with ong>theong>unique historical and ong>theong>ological perspective that this church presents, convinced ong>theong>ong>Committeeong> that its study should focus on ong>theong> baptism ong>ofong> this group as a test case withoutpresuming to restrict its study or ong>theong> principles discovered to this group.The ong>Committeeong> considered it one ong>ofong> its first responsibilities to ascertain what isinvolved in true Christian baptism. The form comprises water and ong>theong> name ong>ofong> ong>theong>© PCA Historical Center, 2003. 81[Minutes, 15th GA (1987), pp. 416-422]


PCA DIGESTTrinity (Mt. 28:19, sometimes expressed, however, by ong>theong> name ong>ofong> ong>theong> Savior Jesusalone as ong>theong> mediatorial representative ong>ofong> ong>theong> Trinity; cf. Acts 2:38 and elsewhere inActs and ong>theong> New Testament, Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith xxviii, 2; LargerCatechism 165; Shorter Catechism 94). The basic assumption, intention or design isthat ong>theong> Christian rite or sacrament ong>ofong> baptism is being performed. The WestminsterConfession ong>ofong> Faith (xxviii, 1) summarizes ong>theong> biblical truths in reference to baptismwhen it says that it is a sacrament "not only for ong>theong> solemn admission ong>ofong> ong>theong> partybaptized into ong>theong> visible Church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal ong>ofong> ong>theong> covenantong>ofong> grace, ong>ofong> his ingrafting into Christ, ong>ofong> regeneration, ong>ofong> remission ong>ofong> sins, and ong>ofong> hisgiving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness ong>ofong> life" (cf. LargerCatechism 165; Shorter Catechism 94). Thus baptism teaches ong>theong> doctrine ong>ofong> unionwith Christ and its implications for ong>theong> believer and also union with Christ's people,both His spiritual body and ong>theong> visible Church ("for ong>theong> solemn admission ong>ofong> ong>theong> partybaptized into ong>theong> visible Church, Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith, xxxviii, 1, reflectingsuch biblical passages as Acts 2:38-42, cf. also Larger Catechism 165). Furong>theong>rmore,baptism is given as a sacrament to Christ's Church to be administered by ong>theong> Church inits ministry ("which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in HisChurch until ong>theong> end ong>ofong> ong>theong> world" (Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith xviii, 1 reflectingMt. 28:19, 20; cf. xxvii, 4, and xxviii, 2, and Larger Catechism 164). With thisgenerally agreed upon conception ong>ofong> what baptism is, according to ong>theong> Scriptures andong>theong> summary ong>ofong> ong>theong> Scriptural truth provided by ong>theong> confessional documents, ong>theong>committee examined ong>theong> two approaches to ong>theong> question ong>ofong> ong>theong> validity ong>ofong> baptism usingong>theong> Roman Catholic baptism as a test case as previously indicated.A. An Analysis ong>ofong> ong>theong> Arguments for ong>theong> Validity ong>ofong> Roman Catholic Baptism.The committee considered ong>theong> arguments presented by ong>theong> RPCES Synod'scommittee report. In doing so, it followed ong>theong> advice and urging ong>ofong> that committee toread and consider ong>theong> arguments ong>ofong> ong>theong> most vigorous American exponent ong>ofong> thatposition, C. Hodge. The article by Hodge, written in opposition to ong>theong> 1845 Assembly'sdecision on ong>theong> matter, which Hodge himself felt constrained to note was by a vote ong>ofong>169 to 8, with 6 abstaining, appeared in ong>theong> Princeton Review ong>ofong> 1845, pp. 444, ff., andhas been reproduced in Hodge's Church Polity, pp. 191 ff. The writer argues that threethings are necessary for ong>theong>re to be a valid baptism, i.e., washing with water, in ong>theong>name ong>ofong> ong>theong> Trinity, and with ong>theong> ostensible prong>ofong>essed design to comply with ong>theong>command ong>ofong> Christ, i.e., intent. The conclusion reached by Hodge was that ong>theong> threeelements are present in Roman Catholic baptism and ong>theong>refore that it is valid.The committee was convinced that this case was both inadequate and also atpoints in error in reference to Roman Catholic baptism. Its inadequacy is seen by ong>theong>fact that this appraisal or system ong>ofong> analysis would also ong>ofong> necessity declare as valid ong>theong>baptism ong>ofong> certain prong>ofong>essedly Christian but sectarian groups, such as ong>theong> Mormons.Usually those arguing for ong>theong> Roman Catholic baptism would agree that ong>theong>se oong>theong>rbaptisms are not valid because in ong>theong> second and third aspects, in ong>theong> name ong>ofong> ong>theong>Trinity and with true design or intent, ong>theong>se oong>theong>r baptisms are not really Biblical andChristian in ong>theong>ir use ong>ofong> ong>theong> Trinity or in ong>theong>ir understanding ong>ofong> ong>theong> design or intent ong>ofong>baptism. But it is just this objection with respect to ong>theong> true design or intent that ong>theong>committee thinks applies also to Roman Catholic baptism. At this point we see both aninadequacy and an error.http://www.pcanet.org/history/pca/2-78.pdf 82


POSITION PAPERSAlthough ong>theong> three elements are present in Mormon baptism, ong>theong>y are now seento be inadequate as formal and external items. They may now only function assignificant items when ong>theong>y are controlled by and expressions ong>ofong> ong>theong> overarching truthong>ofong> ong>theong> Gospel. Without ong>theong> truth ong>ofong> ong>theong> Gospel, ong>theong>re is no true and valid baptism evenwhen ong>theong>se elements are present. It is this larger perspective which is necessary andwhich is lacking in Hodge's application ong>ofong> ong>theong> three elements to ong>theong> Roman Catholicchurch.As one step forward to this necessary larger perspective, one can see furong>theong>r ong>theong>inadequacy and error ong>ofong> this three-element approach by comparing it with ourconfessional evaluation ong>ofong> ong>theong> oong>theong>r sacrament, ong>theong> Lord's Supper, as it is administeredin ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church as ong>theong> mass. Here also one can devise a formal andexternal description ong>ofong> ong>theong> elements necessary for a valid Lord's Supper which isproperly analogous to that given for a valid baptism, i.e., ong>theong> prescribed material, breadand wine, ong>theong> prescribed formula, ong>theong> words ong>ofong> institution, and ong>theong> intent, "with ong>theong>ostensible prong>ofong>essed design to comply with ong>theong> command ong>ofong> Christ" (Minutes, RPCES,1981, p. 45). But notice, in spite ong>ofong> ong>theong> fact that ong>theong>se three analogous elements arepresent, our confessional standards adjudge ong>theong> Roman Catholic observance ong>ofong> ong>theong>Lord's Supper, ong>theong> mass, to be invalid. The Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith (xxix, 2)says "that ong>theong> Papist sacrifice ong>ofong> ong>theong> mass (as ong>theong>y call it) is most abominably injuriousto Christ's one, only sacrifice .........." The Confession (xxix, 6) goes on to say that ong>theong>doctrine ong>ofong> ong>theong> mass "overthroweth ong>theong> nature ong>ofong> ong>theong> sacrament, and hath been, and is,ong>theong> cause ong>ofong> manifold superstitions, yea, ong>ofong> gross idolatries" (italics added).With this question ong>ofong> doctrine we have come to a larger aspect ong>ofong> ong>theong> question.It is not only ong>theong> doctrine ong>ofong> ong>theong> sacrament itself that is in view, but also ong>theong> question ong>ofong>ong>theong> doctrine concerning ong>theong> church as one faithful or degenerate with respect to ong>theong>Gospel. It is this larger perspective concerning ong>theong> church which has already broughtPresbyterians in fact to recognize ong>theong> invalidity ong>ofong> Mormon baptism, even when ong>theong>three elements are present, and ong>theong> invalidity ong>ofong> Unitarian baptism (Minutes ong>ofong> GeneralAssembly, 1814; Minutes ong>ofong> General Assembly , 1871). This brings us ong>theong>nto a consideration ong>ofong> ong>theong> case for ong>theong> invalidity ong>ofong> Roman Catholic baptism.B. The Presentation ong>ofong> ong>theong> Arguments for ong>theong> Invalidity ong>ofong> Roman Catholic Baptism.Although ong>theong> arguments for this view have surfaced in part in ong>theong> precedingsection and especially in ong>theong> immediately preceding paragraph, ong>theong> committee felt itappropriate to present ong>theong>se arguments given in 1845, and also in 1871, in a compactsummary form, and ong>theong>n both evaluate and expand that summary for ong>theong> benefit ong>ofong> ong>theong>church. The committee is convinced that ong>theong> essence ong>ofong> ong>theong> argument was and ispersuasive and should guide ong>theong> church in its decision. The following is our schematicsummary ong>ofong> ong>theong> report ong>ofong> ong>theong> committee presented to ong>theong> General Assembly ong>ofong> ong>theong>Presbyterian Church (Old School) and adopted by that Assembly in 1845 (Minutes,1845, pages 34-37). This summary ong>ofong> ours also reflects similar aspects ong>ofong> ong>theong> 1871report (Minutes, p. 30). Since ong>theong>se reports are not readily available to ong>theong> churchtoday, ong>theong> 1845 report in its entirety and ong>theong> central portion ong>ofong> ong>theong> 1871 report relatingto Roman Catholic and Unitarian baptism are made available in two appendices at ong>theong>end ong>ofong> this report.© PCA Historical Center, 2003. 83[Minutes, 15th GA (1987), pp. 416-422]


PCA DIGEST(1) The Romish communion is not a true church and ong>theong>refore its sacramentscannot be true and valid sacraments.(2) The Romish priests are not ministers ong>ofong> Christ and ong>theong>refore ong>theong> ritesadministered by ong>theong>m cannot be regarded as ong>theong> ordinances ong>ofong> Christ.(3) The doctrine or meaning ong>ofong> ong>theong> sacrament ong>ofong> baptism is so corrupted byong>theong> Romish communion that it invalidates ong>theong> sacrament ong>ofong> baptism.These arguments now need to be set forth in greater detail and evaluated. Theforce ong>ofong> ong>theong>m is, ong>ofong> course, cumulative, but any one ong>ofong> ong>theong>m, if true, would in itselfmake ong>theong> baptism invalid.(1) The first argument is considered one ong>ofong> ong>theong> most compelling by ong>theong>committee. There is an inseparable relationship between ong>theong> church and ong>theong> ordinances.The Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith (xxv, 3) aptly summarizes ong>theong> truth ong>ofong> Matong>theong>w28:19, 20, and oong>theong>r Biblical passages in indicating that "unto this Catholic visibleChurch Christ hath given ong>theong> . . . ordinances ong>ofong> God..." Furong>theong>r, ong>theong> WestminsterConfession ong>ofong> Faith (xxviii, 1) speaks ong>ofong> baptism as ordained by Jesus Christ "for ong>theong>solemn admission ong>ofong> ong>theong> party baptized into ong>theong> visible church" (cf., e.g., Acts 2:38 -42)and as a sacrament "to be continued in His church until ong>theong> end ong>ofong> ong>theong> world" (cf. Mt.28:19, 20). This relationship is furong>theong>r demonstrated by ong>theong> fact that ong>theong> confessionappropriately indicates that ong>theong> administration ong>ofong> ong>theong> ordinances is one ong>ofong> ong>theong> marks bywhich one determines ong>theong> fidelity ong>ofong> a church or its degeneration so that it is no longer achurch ong>ofong> Christ (xxv, 4, 5). It is this perspective that has uniformly persuaded ourchurch, and oong>theong>r true churches ong>ofong> Christ, to regard ong>theong> baptism ong>ofong> ong>theong> Unitarian churchor ong>theong> Mormon church as invalid even when a trinitarian formula may have been used,and even when a design or intent ong>ofong> relating ong>theong> person in some way to Jesus Christ andHis death is asserted.The decision ong>ofong> ong>theong> 1845 General Assembly made reference to ong>theong> decision ong>ofong>ong>theong> 1835 General Assembly (Minutes, p. 490) which "Resolved, That it is ong>theong>deliberate and decided judgment ong>ofong> this Assembly that ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church hasessentially apostatized from ong>theong> religion ong>ofong> our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, andong>theong>refore cannot be recognized as a Christian Church." The General Assembly ong>ofong> 1879in reaffirming this decision ong>ofong> 1835 wisely reminded ong>theong> Assembly that this decisionwas in accord with ong>theong> Confession ong>ofong> Faith in its evaluation ong>ofong> ong>theong> headship ong>ofong> ong>theong>Roman Catholic Church, and thus ong>ofong> that Church itself. (This evaluation is true for allong>theong> variant forms ong>ofong> ong>theong> Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith, xxv, 6). The decision ong>ofong> 1879(Minutes p. 630) reads as follows:Resolved, That this Assembly, in full accordance with ong>theong> words ong>ofong> ourConfession ong>ofong> Faith respecting ong>theong> Church ong>ofong> Rome and its so-calledspiritual head, do now reaffirm ong>theong> deliverance, upon this subject, ong>ofong> ong>theong>Assembly ong>ofong> 1835, as applying to that Roman hierarchy headed by ong>theong>pope, falsely claiming to be ong>theong> Church; which, opposed absolutely andirreconcilably to ong>theong> doctrines ong>ofong> Holy Scripture, is corrupting anddegrading a large part ong>ofong> Christ's Church over which it has usurpedsupreme control.Furong>theong>r evidence for this appraisal ong>ofong> ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church would be ong>theong>appraisal ong>ofong> ong>theong> mass already referred to as "most abominably injurious to Christ's one,http://www.pcanet.org/history/pca/2-78.pdf 84


POSITION PAPERSonly sacrifice," as "contrary to ong>theong> nature ong>ofong> this sacrament, and to ong>theong> institution ong>ofong>Christ" and as a doctrine which "over-throweth ong>theong> nature ong>ofong> ong>theong> sacrament, and hathbeen, and is, ong>theong> cause ong>ofong> manifold superstitions; yea, ong>ofong> gross idolatries" (WestminsterConfession ong>ofong> Faith, xxix, 2, 4, 6). The committee thinks that this apostasy ong>ofong> ong>theong>Roman Catholic Church does not need to be furong>theong>r established.A summary statement in ong>theong> decision ong>ofong> 1845 states ong>theong> matter withperceptiveness in regard to ong>theong> implication for baptism: "As certainly ong>theong>n, as ong>theong>dogmas and practices ong>ofong> papal Rome are not ong>theong> holy religion ong>ofong> Christ, must it beconceded, that ong>theong> papal body is not a Church ong>ofong> Christ...; and if not, ong>theong>n ... ong>theong> rite ong>theong>ycall baptism, is not, in any sense, to be regarded as valid Christian baptism." In makingthis appraisal, ong>theong> committee reminded ong>theong> Assembly that as long ago as 1790 ong>theong>Assembly had made ong>theong> correlation between true church and true ordinances with ong>theong>corollary ong>ofong> a false church and invalid ordinances. Although Hodge vigorouslychallenged this appraisal ong>ofong> ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church by ong>theong> General Assemblies ong>ofong>1835 and 1845, insisting that even Rome's doctrine ong>ofong> salvation manifested that it was achurch ong>ofong> Christ, ong>theong> General Assembly held to its evaluation ong>ofong> 1845, in ong>theong>reaffirmation ong>ofong> 1879. The Souong>theong>rn Assembly ong>ofong> 1871 took ong>theong> same position inregard to ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church as ong>theong>se oong>theong>r assemblies did.The study committee turned to ong>theong> book ong>ofong> Galatians because it dealt with asituation analogous to that ong>ofong> ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church. The false teachers at Galatiataught that one is saved only by a combination ong>ofong> faith and works (Gal. 3:1-5, 11; 5:1-11; 6:12-15). This is also ong>theong> teaching ong>ofong> Roman Catholicism as evidenced by ong>theong>decision ong>ofong> ong>theong> Council ong>ofong> Trent, decisions still in effect. The Apostle Paul called sucha message "a different gospel which is really not anoong>theong>r," indicated that ong>theong>y did"distort ong>theong> gospel ong>ofong> Christ," and said that those who taught and held it were "accursed"by God (Galations 1:6-9). Paul sought to rid ong>theong> congregation ong>ofong> ong>theong>ir presence andteaching.The Apostle John says that ong>theong> false teachers and leaders that he opposed "wentout from us ... in order that it might be shown that ong>theong>y all are not ong>ofong> us" (1 John 2:19).John's verdict covering a group existing alongside ong>ofong> his own fellowship as not part ong>ofong>ong>theong> apostolic fellowship or communion, made us realize such a verdict would also haveto be rendered on a group like that ong>ofong> ong>theong> Galatian false teachers who were adjudgedwith equal severity by Paul, if and when ong>theong>y existed as a separate entity. Thesimilarity between ong>theong> false teachers in ong>theong> book ong>ofong> Galations and ong>theong> Roman CatholicChurch is so close that ong>theong> committee was compelled by ong>theong> Scripture to come to ong>theong>same verdict on that group that ong>theong> Apostle Paul had, and also by implication as ong>theong>Apostle John had, in an analogous situation.The effect ong>ofong> this Scriptural perspective for ong>theong> validity ong>ofong> baptism should beevident. If ong>theong> message is no gospel, indeed, a distortion ong>ofong> ong>theong> gospel, and ong>theong>y areaccursed by God (Gal. 1:6-9), ong>theong>n any such church group would come under ong>theong> sameindictment. John says that those who leave ong>theong> teaching ong>ofong> Christ "do not have God" (2John 9); and Paul says ong>ofong> those who embrace ong>theong> doctrine ong>ofong> ong>theong> false teachers ong>ofong>Galatia that "Christ will be ong>ofong> no benefit" (Gal. 5:2) and that ong>theong>y are "severed fromChrist" and not in ong>theong> sphere ong>ofong> grace (Gal. 5:4). Would ong>theong>ir baptism be valid, even ifwith water, in ong>theong> name ong>ofong> ong>theong> Trinity, and with ong>theong> intent to comply with Christ'sCommand? May those who are severed from Christ, from grace, and from God,administer Christ's ordinance ong>ofong> baptism? The committee, on ong>theong> basis ong>ofong> thisconsideration ong>ofong> Scripture, joins with ong>theong> early unanimous verdict ong>ofong> ong>theong> courts ong>ofong>© PCA Historical Center, 2003. 85[Minutes, 15th GA (1987), pp. 416-422]


PCA DIGESTAmerican Presbyterianism on ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church and its baptism. It isconstrained to answer in ong>theong> negative.One ong>ofong> ong>theong> problems remaining is ong>theong> fact that John Calvin resisted ong>theong> urging ong>ofong>ong>theong> Anabaptists that he, having been baptized by ong>theong> Roman Catholics, should be (re-)baptized (Institutes 4.15.16-18). His response must be understood in terms ong>ofong> ong>theong>uniqueness ong>ofong> ong>theong> situation and not wrongly generalized. He, ong>ofong> course, resisted ong>theong>Anabaptists' desire to have him repudiate his infant baptism and receive baptism as anadult believer. The effect that this situation had upon him can be seen in his insistingthat Paul did not really baptize ong>theong> disciples ong>ofong> John ong>theong> Baptist in Ephesus and in hisinsisting that ong>theong> baptism ong>ofong> John ong>theong> Baptist is Christian baptism. This insistence,contrary to ong>theong> text ong>ofong> ong>theong> Scriptures, is so that he can assert that those were not "rebaptisms"at all in opposition to ong>theong> Anabaptists. The denomination in which Calvinwas baptized was a church in flux, and coming to but not yet beyond ong>theong> crossroads (cf.,Institutes 4.2.11). It is not yet ong>theong> church ong>ofong> ong>theong> counter-reformation, ong>theong> Council ong>ofong>Trent and its anaong>theong>mas on ong>theong> doctrine ong>ofong> justification by faith alone (see H. J.Schroeder, Canons and Decrees ong>ofong> ong>theong> Council ong>ofong> Trent, "Sixth Session, DecreeCovering Justification" and particularly "Canon 9," "If anyone says that ong>theong> sinner isjustified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order toobtain ong>theong> grace ong>ofong> justification . . . let him be anaong>theong>ma.") That pre-Reformationchurch in flux is ong>theong> church in which Calvin and many ong>ofong> ong>theong> oong>theong>r Reformationbelievers had been members. Thus Calvin and ong>theong> church ong>ofong> today stand at differentvantage points in evaluating ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church, i.e., ong>theong> church ong>ofong> his infancy,ong>theong> pre-reformation church, and ong>theong> Roman Catholic church post-reformation and post-Council-ong>ofong>-Trent. The analogy could be drawn between certain congregationalchurches in New England before and after ong>theong> transition to Unitarianism.The study committee is convinced that this first argument is a firm and trueprinciple and should be followed in regard to ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church as it isfollowed in regard to such groups as ong>theong> Unitarian Church and ong>theong> Mormon Church.Just as we have not received members by letter ong>ofong> transfer from ong>theong> RomanCatholic Church because we do not believe it to be a true church, so we should notreceive its baptism, which we acknowledge admits one into ong>theong> visible church(Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith, xxviii, 1) as a true and valid baptism.(2) The second reason given by ong>theong> General Assembly ong>ofong> 1845 was that ong>theong>Romish priest are not ministers ong>ofong> Christ and ong>theong> Word, and ong>theong>refore ong>theong> ritesadministered by ong>theong>m cannot be regarded as ong>theong> ordinances ong>ofong> Christ. Although yourstudy committee acknowledges ong>theong> truth ong>ofong> this reason, it regards it as a corollary ong>ofong>reason number (1) and an application ong>ofong> that conclusion and not actually an independentargument.The perspective ong>ofong> our Confession, which reflects ong>theong> outcome ong>ofong> ong>theong> earlyDonatist controversy, when it says that ong>theong> efficacy ong>ofong> a sacrament does not dependupon ong>theong> piety ong>ofong> ong>theong> one that administers it (Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith, xxvii, 3),is really dealing with a different situation. That earlier Donatist controversy dealt withong>theong> question ong>ofong> a minister who succumbed momentarily to ong>theong> pressure ong>ofong> persecution.The church in which he ministered was more or less pure in upholding ong>theong> Gospel. Hissuccumbing to ong>theong> pressure ong>ofong> persecution did not thus invalidate ong>theong> sacraments he hadadministered.http://www.pcanet.org/history/pca/2-78.pdf 86


POSITION PAPERSThe situation in view in ong>theong> Roman Catholic priesthood is not that which ourConfession and ong>theong> Donatist controversy addresses. It is that ong>ofong> a ministry and a churchwhich, in ong>theong> words ong>ofong> Paul describing ong>theong> false teachers ong>ofong> Galatia, preach "a differentgospel, which is not anoong>theong>r," "distort ong>theong> gospel ong>ofong> Christ" and thus lie under ong>theong>Apostolic judgment, "let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:6-9). Therefore, inevitably, in thiscase, Romish church and Romish ministry are evaluated alike.(3) The doctrine or meaning ong>ofong> ong>theong> sacrament ong>ofong> baptism is so corrupted byong>theong> Romish communion that it invalidates ong>theong> sacrament ong>ofong> baptism.The committee is persuaded that this argument like argument number (2) isreally a sub-point or corollary ong>ofong> argument number (1). When ong>theong> Gospel's doctrine ong>ofong>justification is repudiated, ong>theong>n ong>theong> church, its ministry, and its sacraments, all standunder ong>theong> judgment ong>ofong> ong>theong> Apostle Paul ong>ofong> "no gospel," ong>ofong> distortion ong>ofong> ong>theong> Gospel ong>ofong>Christ and ong>ofong> being accursed by God (Gal. 1:6-9). Although ong>theong> doctrine ong>ofong> ong>theong> masscan itself directly challenge ong>theong> once-for-all sacrifice ong>ofong> Christ and its sufficiency andthus by itself be so corrupting that it invalidates that sacrament, and although ong>theong>re aremany erroneous features to ong>theong> doctrine ong>ofong> baptism in ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church (e.g.,baptismal regeneration and forgiveness solely through ong>theong> operation ong>ofong> ong>theong> sacrament),in ong>theong> case ong>ofong> ong>theong> sacrament ong>ofong> baptism it is not ong>theong>se errors that invalidate ong>theong>sacrament but raong>theong>r ong>theong> overarching repudiation ong>ofong> ong>theong> Gospel ong>ofong> grace alone throughfaith alone that invalidates ong>theong> Roman Catholic Church, its message, and its sacraments.The committee is persuaded that our church is not being called on to make arelative judgment here ong>ofong> how ong>theong>ologically and biblically erroneous ong>theong> RomanCatholic Church's view ong>ofong> baptism may be. Raong>theong>r, it is at each and every placeconfronted with ong>theong> heart question ong>ofong> ong>theong> Scriptures, ong>theong> Gospel, and with ong>theong> ApostlePaul's radical and absolute judgment.In coming to this conclusion, we are provided a perspective from which toaddress ong>theong> specific question ong>ofong> ong>theong> Grace Presbytery. It raised ong>theong> question wheong>theong>r"ong>theong> recipients ong>ofong> so-called baptism, by a religious body, which claimed ong>theong> sacramentsas a part ong>ofong> a process ong>ofong> justification (as in ong>theong> case ong>ofong> Roman Catholic, Church ong>ofong>Christ, or Luong>theong>ran churches) proper recipients ong>ofong> Christian baptism?" Thiscommittee would advise ong>theong> Church to distinguish between unfortunate, indeed, serious,errors and that which is so corrupting that ong>theong> so-called baptism is invalid. The samecould be said for ong>theong> doctrine ong>ofong> ong>theong> Lord's Supper in Luong>theong>ran churches. Thecommittee would adjudge that ong>theong> baptism should be regarded as invalid eiong>theong>r whenong>theong> doctrine ong>ofong> ong>theong> sacrament absolutely and directly contradicts and denies ong>theong> gospel(e.g. ong>theong> mass) or when it is administered in a church that denies ong>theong> gospel. When ong>theong>erroneous doctrine is "inconsistently" held in correlation with an overarchingaffirmation ong>ofong> ong>theong> essence ong>ofong> ong>theong> gospel, ong>theong> sacrament ong>ofong> baptism must be regard ed inthat larger perspective. In short, from that perspective even ong>theong> misguided "piety orintention" ong>ofong> a true church ong>ofong> Christ should not be regarded as invalidating ong>theong> validityong>ofong> its baptism.The three arguments given are in essence one - is ong>theong> church a true church ong>ofong>Christ. And that question is finally one ong>ofong> fidelity to ong>theong> Gospel. Christ's Apostle Paulspeaks ong>theong> verdict ong>ofong> ong>theong> Head ong>ofong> ong>theong> Church when he says that those, are "severed fromChrist, are seeking to be justified by law" (Gal. 5:4). We are constrained albeitwith great sadness, to echo that verdict which ong>ofong> necessity also falls upon ong>theong> Roman© PCA Historical Center, 2003. 87[Minutes, 15th GA (1987), pp. 416-422]


PCA DIGESTCatholic Church. And thus we are compelled to admit that its sacraments are invalidand especially that its baptism is invalid.RECOMMENDATIONS:(1) That ong>theong> Assembly adopt ong>theong> following recommendations with respect to RomanCatholic baptism:A. that ong>theong> General Assembly counsel that ong>theong> baptism ong>ofong> those churchesthat have so degenerated from ong>theong> Gospel ong>ofong> Christ as to be no churchesong>ofong> Christ (cf., Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faith, xxv, 5; e.g., Unitarian,Mormon, Roman Catholic) is not to be regarded as valid Christianbaptism; andB. that converts from those groups be instructed in this matter and be givenChristian baptism; andC. that sessions and pastors deal with any ong>ofong> those converts who havedifficulties with this matter in ong>theong> same way that ong>theong>y deal with convertsfrom a non-religious background who have difficulties with baptism forong>theong>mselves.(2) That ong>theong> Assembly adopt ong>theong> following recommendation as a furong>theong>r answer toong>theong> question ong>ofong> Grace Presbytery:A. that erroneous views ong>ofong> baptism, which do not absolutely contradict andoverturn ong>theong> Gospel, do not invalidate ong>theong> baptisms in ong>theong>se truechurches.(3) That ong>theong> Assembly consider and vote upon ong>theong> answer given by both ong>theong>ong>Committeeong> ong>ofong> Commissioners on Judicial Business and ong>theong> Sub-ong>Committeeong> onJudicial Business to ong>theong> question ong>ofong> Western Carolinas Presbytery which is nowalso recommended by ong>theong> ong>Studyong> ong>Committeeong> with ong>theong> addition ong>ofong> citations fromong>theong> confessional standards, as follows:Q. May baptisms properly be administered to individuals making prong>ofong>essionong>ofong> faith, but who do not intend to become members ong>ofong> ong>theong> requestedcongregation? If so, under what circumstances?A. Baptism should not be administered to those individuals makingprong>ofong>ession ong>ofong> faith but who do not intend to become members ong>ofong> ong>theong>requested congregation ("Baptism is a sacrament ong>ofong> ong>theong> New Testament,ordained by Jesus Christ... for ong>theong> solemn admission ong>ofong> ong>theong> partybaptized into ong>theong> visible Church..." Westminster Confession ong>ofong> Faithxxviii, 1; "Baptism is a sacrament ong>ofong> ong>theong> New Testament ... whereby ong>theong>parties baptized are solemnly admitted into ong>theong> visible church . .”Larger Catechism 165; "Baptism is not to be administered to any that areout ong>ofong> ong>theong> visible church..." Larger Catechism 166).(4) That ong>theong> Assembly consider and vote upon ong>theong> answer given by both ong>theong>ong>Committeeong> ong>ofong> Commissioners on Judicial Business and ong>theong> Sub-ong>Committeeong> onJudicial Business to ong>theong> question ong>ofong> Western Carolinas Presbytery, which is nowalso recommended by ong>theong> ong>Studyong> ong>Committeeong> as follows:Q. May infant baptism properly be administered to covenant children ong>ofong>persons who are not members ong>ofong> ong>theong> particular congregation asked? (Forpersonal reasons ong>theong>y have not joined Trinity, but hold membership inong>theong> CRC where ong>theong>y formerly resided.) If so, under what circumstances?http://www.pcanet.org/history/pca/2-78.pdf 88


POSITION PAPERSA. Ordinarily infant baptism should be administered only to covenantchildren ong>ofong> persons who are members ong>ofong> ong>theong> requested congregation.However, baptism is not to be unnecessarily delayed (BCO 56-1);ong>theong>refore, it would be proper for a minister to baptize ong>theong> child ong>ofong>members ong>ofong> anoong>theong>r church where those members find it impossible orimpracticable to return to ong>theong>ir home church due to an occupationalassignment (military, business, etc.). In every case such baptism shouldbe administered only with ong>theong> consent ong>ofong> ong>theong> home Session, with propernotification ong>ofong> ong>theong> baptism in order that due spiritual oversight may begiven and accurate records kept.Respectfully submitted:Frank M. Barker, Jr.Carl W. Bogue, Jr.George W. Knight, III, ChairmanPaul G. Settle© PCA Historical Center, 2003. 89[Minutes, 15th GA (1987), pp. 416-422]

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