Logos Bible Software (Faithlife) recently asked me to come on as a regular writer for their Word by Word blog. Linked below you will find my first article, exploring the question, “Why do Christians disagree on baptism?”
The Historic (Reformed) Theology of Baptism & the Lord’s Supper in Baptist Confessions & Catechisms
The following examples demonstrate that the historic Baptist position on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper was essentially a credobaptist version of the Reformed view. This contrasts with the views of many Baptists today who conceive and speak of the ordinances as mere acts of the believer (e.g., acts of remembrance, public declarations of faith) as opposed to also being signs and confirmations of God’s promises to us, and thereby means of his grace in the life of the believer.
The Belgic Confession and The Westminster Confession (to be clear, neither of which are Baptist) can be cited as representative of the Reformed view:
“Our gracious God, taking account of our weakness and infirmities, has ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us His promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God towards us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which He has joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses both that which He declares to us by His Word and that which He works inwardly in our hearts, thereby confirming in us the salvation which He imparts to us.” (Belgic)
“Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ, and his benefits; and to confirm our interest in him.” (Westminster)
Even The Augsburg Confession (not Reformed, but Lutheran) overlaps with this Reformed view on at least this point: “[The Sacraments] were ordained, not only to be marks of profession amongst men, but rather that they should be signs and testimonies of the will of God towards us, set forth unto us, to stir up and confirm faith in such as use them. Therefore men must use Sacraments so, as to join faith with them, which believes the promises that are offered and declared unto us by the Sacraments.”
So our church, CrossWay Milwaukee (Reformed Baptist), expresses our convictions this way in our statement of faith: “We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances instituted by God for the Church as signs to represent Christ and His benefits, and pledges to confirm believers’ interest therein. In this way, they serve our spiritual nourishment when received in faith—the signs themselves not to be confused as actually becoming those things signified nor as having any saving effect in and of themselves. We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion of a professing believer into water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and is properly connected to conversion and inclusion in the church. We believe the Lord’s Supper is a memorial administered with bread and wine designed to commemorate Christ’s death and exhibit believers’ communion with Him as well as each other.”
The First London Confession of Father (1644)
“To this Church He hath made His promises, and giveth the signs of His covenant, presence, acceptation, love, blessing and protection. Here are the fountains and springs of His heavenly graces flowing forth to refresh and strengthen them.”
“That the way and manner of dispensing this ordinance, is dipping or plunging the body under water; it being a sign, must answer the things signified, which is, that interest the saints have in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ: And that as certainly as the body is buried under water, and risen again, so certainly shall the bodies of the saints be raised by the power of Christ, in the day of the resurrection, to reign with Christ.”Continue reading
Denominations & Traditions Chart
Below is a basic denominations & traditions chart I made for the residents while working at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. I’m hesitant to share this here because, admittedly, its overly simplistic and I suspect many will find it unsatisfying or maybe even at times misleading for that reason. Nonetheless, for someone who is less familiar and looking simply to get a basic acquaintance with the general landscape, I hope this can provide a helpful starting place, notwithstanding the understandable short comings of something as brief as this.
The Reformation as a Movement of the Scripture
The printing press was invented in 1440, allowing written works — like the Bible — to be widely produced and distributed.
Desiderius Erasmus’ Greek New Testament of the Bible, the first of its kind to be made, was published in 1516, facilitating the movement “ad fontes,” and a close examination of scripture in its original language.
The Protestant Reformation kicked off contemporaneously, circa 1517.
Coincidence? I think not.
When the Word of God is unleashed, expect theological reform.
At the heart of the Reformers’ agenda was to put the scriptures into the hands and ears of the people. Contrast that with the Roman Catholic Church, who, at the time, forbid preaching or translating the Bible into the common language. (Of what were they afraid?)
The Reformation was a movement of the scriptures.
The Formal Cause of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura
The following sermon is the first half of a two-part series on the Protestant Reformation, in celebration and memorial of its 500th year anniversary.
The series covered the formal cause of the Reformation (sola scriptura, “scripture alone”), as well as its material cause (sola fide, “faith alone”). I preached on the former topic, as found below.
The Formal Cause of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura
South City Church