Wayne Grudem Changes His Views

August 9, 2007 — 7 Comments

To be short, I’ll quote John Piper here.

Justin Taylor drew our attention to the fact that Wayne revised section F1 in his new edition of Systematic Theology (pp. 982-983). The section is titled, “Do Churches Need to Be Divided Over Baptism?”

In the first edition, Wayne answered that question no. In the new edition, he does not answer it.

So, I guess you need to do one of two things. Either read the revision and then comment, or just state your views on whether or not churches need to be divided over Baptism. Grudem doesn’t know. Piper says it should not. But what do you say?

Tim Sweetman


Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

7 responses to Wayne Grudem Changes His Views

  1. Call me a Baptist…I don’t care. But I see it as an issue of Scripture vs. man’s interpretation of Scripture. In Scripture, we see baptism carried out primarily through “dunking” — the sprinkling vs. dunking issue I don’t really care about that much — in some cases it is an issue of practicality. The only thing I can see supporting dunking (besides it’s use in Scripture) is the symbolism of being buried. The major issue with baptism is that of infant baptism. In Scripture, we only see “Believer’s Baptism”. When the Ethiopian eunuch wanted to be baptized, Philip made sure to clarify that he was first a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Infant baptism is not, and can not be, believer’s baptism. As such, it is unscriptural, and in my opinion, good ground for division.

  2. I will agree with Abigail. The New Testament gives us our Christian doctrine of Baptism. Acts gives us our examples, and the rest of the New Testament generally gives us the teaching about Baptism.

    Because Baptism is a doctrine in the Bible, and an important doctrine in that Christ commands to baptize in the great commission, it should be something Bible believing Christians should separate from others over.

    There are groups out there that say one must be baptized to go to heaven; this is worth separating over as the Bible teaches otherwise. Other groups believe that if you are not baptized by one of their ministers it was not a valid baptism; this also is worthy of separation. As Abigail already pointed out, some groups practice sprinkling, and some practice sprinkling babies; Dunking is Biblical, both in example and in similitude, and Baptism is to occur AFTER a person accepts Christ as their Savior. These issues, especially when combined (and I believe they are most of the time), are grounds for separation as they are practices that change the teachings of the Bible into man-made practices in this important Bible doctrine.


  3. Great comments! I think the issue here is whether or not you would allow a person who was only baptized as baby into your church (if your constitution allowed) if they showed they were truly born again (since baptism does not save). So, should this issue divide? Only if padeobaptists believe that sprinkling saves them.

  4. Ah…good question indeed. I think too often we don’t take baptism seriously enough – something I highly respect Catholics for, by the way. We too often forget that just because it’s “only a symbol” that our Lord takes it very, very seriously.

    On one hand, I think there should be liberty within a denomination if a congregation wants to have a “baptism” as part of a child’s dedication (many churches have infant dedications, following in the tradition of Hannah the mother of Samuel)…or even to represent the family’s commitment to raise them after the manner of Christian faith. But it needs to be understood that that isn’t making the final decision for the child, because a day will come when they have to take on the “yoke” of the covenant for themselves.

    So, it shouldn’t divide…ever…except in cases where ANYONE says that baptism is essential for salvation. What is essential for salvation is the Gospel – and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that flows from that (“a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance…”). So, those are my thoughts.

  5. I’m a Presbyterian (hence rather rare around this side of the blogosphere), and so I thought I would give my opinion.

    The church is intended to be a body of believers. Believers in what? Infant baptism? Believer baptism? Baptism by sprinkling? Dunking? No! Believers in the gospel. Belief in the gospel is the distinguisher between non-Christian and Christian. In the same way, candidates for church membership should be assessed on whether or not they understand and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified….not on anything else. Obviously belief in the gospel (i.e. salvation by Christ alone) will exclude belief in “baptism is essential to salvation”, so I do not include that in what I just said.

    This does not mean baptism is not important. It is important…everything we are commanded to do by the Saviour is important. It just means (again) that is not essential to salvation, and as it isn’t, shouldn’t be put in the way of those wanting to join the local body of believers.

    The Presbyterian Church’s policy (at least where I live) is along this same line. When members join our church they profess their belief in the essential gospel truths. They promise to attempt to live a life of holiness consistent with that gospel they believe. That’s all.

    God made the church *for the benefit of His children*. So should church leaders be able to exclude those who clearly *are* God’s children from an institution that was created for them…because they differ on baptism? I think not.

    However, thinking about this does bring up the question…Why on earth would a Presbyterian *want* to be a member of a Baptist church? :p

  6. Oh, and just to correct a common misconception Presbyterians don’t think that ‘one must sprinkle’ for a baptism to be proper. We don’t care particularly one way or the other. :-)

  7. I’ll largely echo what Anika said. I don’t think the stance on baptism should be a criteria for church membership. It’s certainly a valid issue for us to discuss and differ over doctrinally, but when it comes to whether you accept someone into church membership, I would generally say this is not an issue that relates to whether the person is or is not saved, nor whether the person is living a life of active and open sin against God.

    The importance for fellowship is to measure whether someone is a fellow believer and is living a Christian life to the best of their ability. While I would certainly want to convince someone that baptism needs to be a personal choice by an adult or child of age to have accepted Christ and decided for themselves, it does not affect the decision of whether this is a brother living a Christian life.

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