A thought on R. Scott Clark’s definiton of “Reformed”

R. Scott Clark, an ordained minister in the denomination of the church my wife and I currently attend, stated a while back that basically, only paedobaptists are “Reformed”.  In doing this of course he claims that credo-baptists (those who baptize only those who profess faith) are thereby not Reformed.  I realized, re-reading the conversation there, that Clark essentially makes the same mistake that Ergun Caner made a few years back when he stated (paraphrasing): “I’m not a Calvinist or an Arminian, I’m a baptist.”

Both Clark and Caner make a category error. The term “Baptist” defines one’s view on baptism, not on soteriology. Likewise “Reformed” defines, not one’s view on baptism, but one’s understanding of the the five solas, and a covenantal understanding of soteriology. Now, Clark might argue that a “covenantal understanding of soteriology” requires a paedobaptistic viewpoint, but the formers of the 1689 London Baptist Confession would surely disagree. Also, consider that Rome had a paedobaptism, and it is Rome from which the Reformers ~reformed~ the church. 

Are not both Caner and Clark educated enough to know a fallacy when they state one?

24 thoughts to “A thought on R. Scott Clark’s definiton of “Reformed””

  1. I'm not sure what category mistake I'm supposed to have made but the Reformed churches have taught and required belief in paedobaptism since the beginning of the 16th century. No one, until the modern period, would have been allowed to deny infant baptism and join a Reformed church or even come to the Lord's Table. The church order of Dort (1619) required that one "profess the

  2. Pastor Clark, thank you for reading my post.<br /><br />You wrote: &quot;Until very recently, the word &quot;Reformed&quot; denoted a theology, piety, and practice not just a soteriology.&quot;<br /><br />I wonder, exactly, what difference in piety, practice and theology (apart from paedobaptism of course) one would find between those who hold to the 1689 London Confession and say, Keach&#39;s

  3. Also…<br /><br />&quot;The church order of Dort (1619) required that one &quot;profess the Reformed religion&quot; in order to come to the Lord&#39;s Table and the&quot;Reformed Religion&quot; meant the Heidelberg Catechism, which children were required to memorize, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort.&quot;<br /><br />Soooo… Wesminster folks are left out?<br /><br />Micah

  4. No, the Westminster folks are not left out. The WCF was not written when the Synod of Dort met. I was only addressing the original intent of the Synod of Dort — which included Anglicans by the way but which did not include any Baptists even though there had been particular Baptists since about 1611. The same is true of the Westminster Assembly (see below).<br /><br />The few Anglicans at

  5. Thank you for responding:<br /><br /><i>I was only addressing the original intent of the Synod of Dort — which included Anglicans by the way but which did not include any Baptists even though there had been particular Baptists since about 1611. The same is true of the Westminster Assembly (see below).</i><br /><br />And yet it was Westminster divines that helped the Baptists draft their

  6. Isn&#39;t it misleading to say that Westminster Divines &quot;helped&quot; to draft the LBC? Yes, the LBC borrowed from the WCF. No question but that&#39;s a little different from saying that the divines actively helped to write the LBC –which denies important parts of the Reformed faith.<br /><br />All Baptists, whether of the LBC type (which were orginally called Particular Baptists) or of the

  7. Micah,<br /><br />Good post. Dr. Clark didn&#39;t answer your challenge to his claim that Baptists regard him as a non-Christian. I find that quite absurd and untrue. Indeed, I find it odd that an expert in historical theology would make such a uncharitable and inaccurate generalization about Baptists. <br /><br />Most of us are prepared not only to treat him as a brother (assuming he&#39;s made

  8. I’m sure the story is quite familiar to those who have posted. <br /><br />In <i>Differences in Judgement about Water-Baptism no Bar to Communion</i>, John Bunyan completely opposes Dr. Clark’s stated position, yet, from the opposite vantage point. The question facing Bunyan was who was allowed the privilege of partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Indeed, Bunyan was responding to those interloping

  9. Thank you Mr. Burke for taking this subject head on. I&#39;ve listened to Dr, Clark many times and others from the paedobaptist view and I&#39;m beginning to wonder what is going on with them(0r really Dr.Clark). I love the many wonderful confessions and adhere mostly with the LBC, but when it comes down to the be all end all, Sola Scriptura is where I hang my hat!I worry for Dr. Clark that he

  10. David,<br /><br />I can&#39;t speak for all Baptists. As the pastor of a Reformed Baptist church, I can say that we welcome paedo-baptist brothers who&#39;ve made a credible profession of faith to the table. <br /><br />I would also be open to allowing a PB brother become a member of my church if (1) he wasn&#39;t divisive, (2) he&#39;d studied the issue of infant- vs. credo- baptism but remained

  11. I forgot to add the two limitations. PBs who became members of our Baptist church would have all the privileges and responsibilities of church membership but would not be able to (1) hold office or (2) vote on a doctrinal amendment dealing with the subject of baptism. <br /><br />Bob G.

  12. Dr. Gonzales wrote:<br />&quot;Good post. Dr. Clark didn&#39;t answer your challenge to his claim that Baptists regard him as a non-Christian. I find that quite absurd and untrue. Indeed, I find it odd that an expert in historical theology would make such a uncharitable and inaccurate generalization about Baptists.&quot;<br /><br />Dr. Clark&#39;s belief to the effect that &quot;Baptists&quot;

  13. I like Jason&#39;s point about Sola Scriptura and would like to see a consistent hermeneutic and proper exegesis on each scriptural support for paedobaptism that could be debated by both sides one scripture at a time so that traditions will be exposed and truth will reign.<br />the RB position on the covenant of grace goes back to Adam and not just Abram/Abraham. This would show that there was no

  14. It seems to me that all of this comes down to the definition of the Reformed faith as if it were just an &#39;ism&#39;. The Reformed faith is bound up with a particular ecclesiastical tradition, its symbolic documents, its practices and its history. While I will readily acknowledge that Reformed Christians have much in common with their &#39;Reformed&#39; Baptist brothers, we must recognize that

  15. And, as regards the claim that Baptists do not regard paedobaptized Reformed Christians as Christians, I can&#39;t say that I have encountered that view, although I have experienced many Baptist and Reformed churches. My father is a &#39;Reformed&#39; Baptist pastor and, although the pastor must subscribe to the 1689 Confession and the teaching position of the Church is defined by that confession

  16. Interesting discussion and comments. Regarding &quot;baptism is a mark of Christian identify&quot;, true I suppose, but it&#39;s simpler than that really. Whether in NT times or now, baptism is the visible confession of faith Christians make. The PB have had to &quot;invent&quot; another rite of passage, &quot;confession of faith&quot;, completely foreign to the scriptures, to bring

  17. Keep in mind, in light of this discussion, that R. Scott Clark also accuses Paedocommunionists of being Baptists. Yikes! Figure that one out!<br /><br />Also, though he will fiercely deny it and claim I&#39;m confused on the sacraments, it sure seems to this Reformed Baptist that Dr. Clark is speaking out of two sides of his mouth. When he talks about paedobaptism he says &quot;Treat our kids

  18. Mark, <br />I kinda agree with what you&#39;re saying here, with reservations. I don&#39;t think Baptists fail to &#39;treat their children like Christians&#39;, maybe some do, but even the Reformed accept that the Gospel much be preached to all sinners, believers and non alike. Baptists simply withhold the seal of the New Covenant from children until they understand what they&#39;re hearing and

  19. Have any of you ever tried to join a Baptist church? If you do not have membership in a Baptist church of the same or similar denomination, Baptists will insist that you be re-baptized. It is highly hypocritical for Baptists to criticize a Dutch Reformed denomination or one of its ministers for upholding the doctrinal standards of that denomination while at the same time giving open endorsement

  20. Charlie:<br /><br />I am a member of a sovereign grace fellowship baptist church and your assertions are not correct. We accept folks into membership who give a credible confession of repentance and faith as long as they&#39;ve been baptized as believers, ie. post conversion. We certainly would not accept the &quot;militant theology of landmark Baptists&quot;.<br /><br />Interesting distinction

  21. Charlie:<br /><br />Just visited your blog. According to your banner I am &quot;Reformed&quot;. I certainly do subscriber to &quot;five solas of the Reformation and to the five points of Calvinism&quot;.<br /><br />Does that mean I&#39;m Protestant too?! 🙂

  22. Charlie, <br />As a former baptist (I recently switched sides and joined a local URC), I can tell you that what you say is overly generalized. As the former member of a Calvinistic, Baptist church, we did not demand rebaptism from other beleivers-baptism based churches. If you were baptized as a child, most baptist churches will require rebaptism. That&#39;s simply part of their understanding of

Leave a Reply