Monday, August 27, 2012

How The Wrong Foundation Excludes Christians From Christianity

I'm taking a side point here and making an issue out of it.  Carl Trueman, an admitted complimentarian, writes a post at Reformation 21 (HT to Tim Challies here) about his bewilderment that the egalitarian/complementarian debate is making such waves at The Gospel Coalition.  Quoting:

Given that the issue of complementarianism is raising its head over at The Gospel Coalition, it provides an opportunity to reflect on an issue that has always perplexed me: why is the complementarian/egalitarian debate such a significant bone of contention in parachurch cobelligerent organisations whose stated purpose is to set aside issues which divide at a church level but which do not seem to impact directly upon the gospel?
He then compares this attention to how little this organization is giving to such essentials as baptism and the Lord's Supper - issues the church has wrestled with for centuries.  He then reasons that an egalitarian could possibly believe in inerrancy but hold to a "wrong" interpretation, and applies such a paradigm to Baptist ecclesiology - where Baptists could invite a Presbyterian to preach at their church and subsequently deny him the Lord's Supper.  His rabbit trail winds up at this precious gem:

This is not the only awkward question one might ask: for example, which is more unacceptable to a Baptist - a woman preaching credobaptism or a man preaching paedobaptism?
Although my post here is not about the egalitarian/complementarian debate, I do note that I have labored in great pains on this blog to show the inconsistency of foundations and applications of the doctrine of baptism by both paedobaptists and credobaptists.

But to my main point.  Allow me to continue off-road from Trueman's path for him, and force his side note into the forefront.  I could add to the toxicity by pointing out that there are churches that have formal memberships and a "closed" communion, restricting the Supper to members of their own church.  So, then Baptists could invite another Baptist to preach at their church and subsequently deny him (or her?  LOL) the Lord's Supper.  Truly septic.  Many Baptists don't accept the baptisms of their own members if they were baptized as infants in other churches, especially if they were baptized in the Roman Catholic church.  Then there are paedobaptists who rail against anabaptists (re-baptizers) for forcing rebaptism of their former members when they switch to a Baptist church, when they themselves don't recognize an infant baptism that occurred in the Roman Catholic church!  They then rebaptize former Catholics, just like the Anabaptists of the radical reformation did.  Anti-anabaptist anabaptists! At least the Reformers recognized the baptisms by the Roman Catholics.  And don't even get me started on all the various views on marriage, divorce and remarriage that people hold to that affect how people can serve in churches and in leadership.  I could go on forever here.

Church leaders then wonder why there are so many people who drift in and out of churches, go church shopping, or stop going to church altogether because just trying to find one that they can attend proves futile.  People are discovering that trying to fit into a church isn't merely falling in the right place on a spectrum.  They need to conform to a 12-dimentional matrix more complicated than the RGB color mapping on their computers.  And if one does not conform, they are cut off from the Lord's Supper, church membership, baptism, ability to serve according to the gifting God has given them, help from the benevolent fund, etc.  So, holding a wrong doctrine as one's foundation can exclude others from one's view of Christianity.

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.   Matt. 23:13
Maybe Jesus could shed some light on the situation.

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