As a model of how two friends can honestly, robustly, and yet graciously disagree over an issue of importance, see the following post I have re-titled “Wayne, Wayne, Wayne…”.
Justin Taylor has also linked to this, and there is interesting discussion in his comments section. I somehow suspect we may not have seen the last of this debate since surely Dr. Grudem won’t pretend he hasn’t read this!
Lots of people know that Wayne Grudem and I are the deepest of friends. We love to room together at conferences. We love to do things together with our wives. We were both in seminary together for a season. We have co-edited a book together. We taught together at Bethel College. And at this very moment I love him and would fly to his side in a crisis. But, Wayne, Wayne, Wayne, why did you rewrite page 983?
. . . Wayne’s new considerations are less compelling than what he wrote in the first edition. In the new edition, he writes:
For someone who holds to believer’s baptism, admitting to church membership someone who has not been baptized upon profession of faith, and telling the person that he or she never has to be baptized as a believer is really giving up one’s view on the proper nature of baptism.
No, Wayne, this is not true. I would gladly admit Ligon Duncan or Sinclair Ferguson or R. C. Sproul or Philip Ryken to membership at Bethlehem (if I were allowed by our constitution), and in doing so I would not be giving up my view on the proper nature of baptism.
I would say to them: “Brothers, I think you are not baptized. But you believe on biblical grounds as you see them, with as much humility and openness to truth as God has given you, that you are baptized. Your understanding of baptism does not imply that Christ’s command may be neglected or that infant sprinkling is regenerating. You give good evidence of being born again and that you embrace Christ as your Savior and Lord and Treasure, and you manifest an authentic intention, on the basis of that faith, to follow Jesus as Lord and obey his teachings. Therefore, since there is good evidence that you are members of the Body of Christ, you may be members of this local expression of that body. But understand this: I will spend the rest of my ministry trying to persuade you that you and your children should follow through on the full obedience to Jesus and be baptized. In admitting you, I do not give up on my view of baptism. That is the whole point. We are finding a way to work on this disagreement from inside the body of Christ in its local expression.”