No. 4 on the list of most-read posts on this blog appeared on August 21, 2007, and was one in a series of posts that catalogued a major debate about baptism and church membership which took place online between such theological heavyweights as John Piper, Sam Storms, Wayne Grudem, Lig Duncan, and Mark Dever.
The posts listed below were all so popular they could have made the top 30 in their own right. It’s worth reading all of them:
- The Pipers Respond to Dever in the Baptism Debate
- Wayne Grudem Changes His Mind on Baptism
- Wayne Grudem Replies to John Piper on Baptism
- John Piper Disagrees with Wayne Grudem Over Baptism Graciously
- Wayne Grudem Says Sam Storms is Right About the Lord’s Supper
- Sam Storms Feels Mark Dever is Confusing on the Lord’s Supper
- Mark Dever Joins the Grudem Versus Piper Baptism Debate
- John Bunyan and the Grudem & Dever Versus Piper Baptism Debate
The post begins as follows:
This whole baptism debate is shaping up to be very interesting indeed. It is surely the first time in living memory that those who I can only think to call the “big guns” have used the blogging medium to have a serious theological debate in front of the rest of us. While Lig Duncan and Justin Taylor have both helpfully shared a bit about what paedobaptists believe, this debate has rather been about whether our local churches must have clear stances on this issue.
Arguing for a more rigorous approach, we have seenWayne Grudem (who also started the whole thing), Mark Dever, and his 9Marks buddy, Aaron Menikoff, while on the other side we have had comments from John Piper, Abraham Piper, John Bunyan, and now in this post, Sam Storms.
I and many others have very deliberately steered clear of joining in the debate because, for some reason, I’m finding it one that is very stimulating and interesting to observe from the touchline. It has been a model debate, and is a clear example of how we can disagree robustly on an issue while still loving and respecting each other. The following words from Sam Storms are no exception. Sam is a good friend, and has given me permission to republish the following complete article which appeared in his newsletter.
The rest of this post is taken in its entirety with permission from an e-mail from Sam Storms, who retains the copyright and is alone responsible for its content.
Piper, Grudem, Dever, et al. on Baptism, the Lord’s Table, and Church Membership
(Just how “Together for the Gospel” are we?)
A few days ago Justin Taylor alerted us to a slight change in Wayne Grudem’s view on baptism, to which John Piper then responded. Wayne then posted his response to John’s response, and one needed only to wait for the ripple effect. By the way, you can read these articles on Justin’s blog in the archive section (www.theologica.blogspot.com).
Recently (August 16, 2007), Mark Dever posted on this issue at the 9Marks blog (www.blog.9marks.org). My primary concern is less with the question of the relationship between baptism and church membership (as important as that is) and more with a related topic that emerges in the course of discussion.
Let me take you back to the Together for the Gospel conference that was held in late April, 2006. It was hosted by Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, and C. J. Mahaney, who also invited three others to deliver plenary messages: John Piper, R. C. Sproul, and John MacArthur. Registration for next year’s conference is now open and I strongly urge you to attend. I will certainly be present.
After the conference was officially over, on Friday afternoon, there was a small gathering of some 75 people in one of the adjoining rooms at the Galt House Hotel. The purpose of this meeting was to address an issue that was raised last year by John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
To be brief, John has come to the conviction that the terms on which one enters the membership of the local church should be, generally speaking, as close as possible to the terms on which one enters the membership of the universal church. In other words, he grew increasingly unsettled by the fact that conscientious, born-again, Christ-loving, Bible-believing Christians who were only baptized as infants could not join his local church. It has been the policy of Bethlehem Baptist Church, a member of the Baptist General Conference, that in order to become a functioning member one must, among other things, be baptized as a believer. On this scenario, Ligon Duncan and R. C.
Sproul, being Presbyterians, could attend but would not be permitted to join Bethlehem Baptist Church. . . .
Read more . . . Sam Storms’ e-mail