The main reason that I am a Baptist Christian is because that is what my parents raised me to be. The faith that they passed on to me involved (among other things) a conviction that baptism is for believers alone and that the church’s polity is congregational. The Bible honors this kind of inheritance, and I am happy to own it (2 Tim. 3:14).
It was only after I entered seminary that I really began to press into other ecclesiological perspectives and to wrestle with their interpretations of scripture. Elder-rule polity and paedobaptist paradigms were particularly challenging to my congregational and credobaptist upbringing. More than anything, I wanted to be faithful to scripture. But I had to face the possibility that maybe I had understood the Bible’s teaching incorrectly on these issues.
During those years, two key influences helped to persuade me that Mom and Dad were right all along.
(1) On believer’s baptism, the key influence was a sermon by John Piper titled “How Do Circumcision and Baptism Correspond?” You can download it here or listen below.
(2) On congregationalism, the key influence was Mark Dever and 9Marks ministries. There are many items from 9Marks that I could mention here, but the first one I encountered is actually one that is a very helpful lay introduction to the issues. It’s titled A Display of God’s Glory. You can purchase this book from Amazon.com, but you can download a free electronic copy from Capitol Hill Baptist Church below.
A Display of God’s Glory, by Mark Dever
Neither of these were the only things that the Lord used to shape my conscience on these issues. There was much more to it than I will share here. They were, however, in the providence of God, watershed resources for me. And that is why I am sharing them with you.
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever
Why I Am a Baptist, ed. Tom Nettles and Russell Moore
James Harold Thomas
Thanks, Denny. I’d also recommend a book called “The Baptism of Disciples Alone” by Fred Malone.
And not to nitpick, but shouldn’t the title be “Why I am a Congregationalist Baptist? Being a Baptist doesn’t necessarily imply Congregationalism does it?
Historically, I think it does.
I appreciate the thoughtful posts you write. I like this one, because I find that people often sneer at folk who have continued in the faith of their parents, as if we
have blindly accepted their philosophy,
have been brainwashed,
“all of the above.”
I am definitely in the same arena as my parents, but I disagree with some things I was taught as a child, having reflected on theology and politics and other matters since I was about ten years old.
I like your admission that your parents are a huge factor on what you now believe and practise, but I also enjoyed reading about how you thought through what you had been told and had seen at home.
But now the Holy Spirit is taking you to where He took your good friend,Richard John Neuhaus.
Honest question: did I screw up when making my comment on this thread or was it deleted? I won’t post it again if it was deleted. Just curious.
Thanks for the recommendations. Ironically, when I began to reevaluate my Baptist paradigm at SBTS, it was Piper’s sermon on Hebrews 10:26-31 – ‘Woe to Those Who Trample the Son of God’ – that blew the debate wide-open for me. There, Piper preaches exactly like a covenantal Presbyterian would preach the “warning passages” and acknowledges he doesn’t have categories for the text (comments not transcribed).
Neither Piper sermon is ultimate, just curious if you’d listened to it.
Nope, never heard it.
Well Denny it looks like you’re a Baptist in large part because…it was instilled into you from infancy. Can I call you an honorary paedobaptist?