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Page 437

This situation produces a dilemma between the following two directives in Scripture:

    1. That all are commanded to join the church and not to live separate from it. That parents are to have the sign of God's covenant placed upon their children who are being brought up under His covenantal instruction. To do so, however, the parents must also be baptized.

    2. That all who are baptized and join the church as adults should confess a personal saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Church history reveals three different approaches to resolving this dilemma. First, certain churches judged the stress on saving belief to supersede that of Church Visible membership, and instructed such persons to wait until such time as a testimony of saving faith could be given. However, this practice produced several problems, as follows:

  • The children of these families had to be denied baptism because the parents were not baptized, or the biblical standards of true conversion were lowered to accommodate the parents.

  • People were associated with a certain church for years, but never became members and therefore could not be disciplined by the church.

  • The false view that membership of a church was to consist of only regenerated people began to develop.

  • The consistories were forced to judge the personal conversion testimonies of others, which produced serious cases of misjudgments and resulting problems.

  • The form for adult baptism became viewed as being different from the form for infant baptism, marriage, confession of faith, and the rest of the church liturgy, when in actuality one should be converted to properly answer the questions for infant baptism or confession of faith and to properly sing the psalters, pray, read the Bible, or worship God in His house.

  • Supersede -To surpass in importance, power, or authority

  • Should the requirements be different for those participating in adult baptism, adult confession of faith, or adults presenting their children for baptism?

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