Report of the

Committee to Study Baptism

and Church Membership


          The Committee to Study Baptism and Church Membership has met six times during the year as a full committee and an additional 10 times as subcommittees. Unanimity remains on the issues of who are proper candidates for baptism and what is the proper mode of baptism.

          Because some members of the Annual Conference did not share the unanimous conviction of the Committee that other modes of application of water are not baptism, study continued and intensified on the linguistic, exegetical, historical and theological basis of immersion as the mode of baptism. This work is not yet complete, but the committee continues its work on this topic. We hereby request the 117th Annual Conference to grant us another year to pursue these matters more fully, and to report our findings to the 118th Annual Conference.

          Within the Committee considerable energy has been invested in seeking to face the differences between the members of the committee on the relationship of baptism and church membership. The interaction within the Committee over these issues has been intense and lengthy, but has always been discussion between brothers who love and respect one another because of their recognition of mutual commitment to Christ, to BFC and to one another.

          Material designed to promote discussion of the exegetical basis of our approach to the definition of this relationship has been circulated to all members of Annual Conference. Members of both subcommittees welcome your comments or questions in person or in writing prior to Annual Conference.


Along, with this report, subcommittee A brings the following recommendation:

 

Whereas, the NT teaches that there is “one baptism” and “one body” despite also teaching that there is baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water and teaching that the church has universal and particular manifestations; and

Whereas, baptism in the Spirit and the church universal are the realities of which baptism in water and Particular Churches and their unions are representations; and

Whereas, the representations must be based on the realities; and

Whereas, baptism in water is a visible declaration of the life given to those born of the Spirit (baptized in the Spirit); and membership in the church visible a declaration of the union with other regenerate or Spirit-baptized people; and

Whereas, there is in church history and in practice today diversity of conviction about the identity of proper candidates for and proper mode of water baptism and diversity of conviction about the meaning of membership in the church visible; and

Whereas, BFC is convinced from Scripture of its “gathered church” (regenerate membership) position and its reformed understanding of redemption (that God initiates our salvation in election and brings it to fulfillment in the death of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit applying Christ̓s work to us individually) and its conviction that there is only one church which is Christ̓s, not ours, and the union of congregations under His headship; therefore be it

Resolved, that we recommend to the Annual Conference that we reaffirm the following:

(1) that only those who are regenerated by God and baptized in the Holy Spirit are spiritually alive and all those who are so regenerated are spiritually alive (Article 14 -Regeneration);

(2) that only those and all those so regenerate and baptized are members of the church of Jesus Christ (Article 18 - The Church);

(3) that all those born from above (regenerate) and baptized in the Spirit should give outward evidence of the inward work of God by being immersed in water (Article 20-1); and further

Resolved, that we recommend to the Annual Conference that we declare:

(1) that membership means the individual professes to have been born from above and that the church accepts that person as part of the body; membership means “life” not “maturity”.

(2) that F&0, 202-3.1 be revised to read as follows: “Anyone desiring to be a member of the BFC shall give testimony of faith in Christ and the new birth. He shall be in sympathy with the F&0 and manifest holiness toward God and separation from the world (Acts 2:41-47)”


Committee to Study Baptism and Church Membership:


Calvin T. Reed, Chairman; John C. Studenroth, Secretary; Carl C. Cassel, Donald T. Kirkwood, Ronald W. Reed, Clayton E. Weber, and Byron Widger.


Subcommittee A: Carl C. Cassel, Donald T. Kirkwood, Clayton E. Weber, and Byron Widger.


Subcommittee B: Calvin T. Reed, Ronald W. Reed and John C. Studenroth.



An Attempt by Subcommittee B

to address the source of differences

with Subcommittee A


Introduction:


          This paper is not intended to be an in depth study of the issue of Baptism and Church membership. The great body of our work with all the exegetical material and real substance is to be found on pp. 187-211 of the 1999 yearbook. That is our most significant work and we believe it stands on its own merits. We plead with all the members of Annual Conference to please re-read this material and fully acquaint yourself with it. The purpose of this paper is to simply highlight some of the differences between the two positions of the committee and the presuppositions that undergird them. Again, the material from subcommittee B intended to convince Conference to retain the requirement of water baptism for church membership is found on pp. 187-211 of the 1999 yearbook.

          We want to answer the question, What is the real problem before us?

          The problem is NOT disagreement over mode. BOTH subcommittees have reaffirmed (more than once) their full support for BFC Article 20-1 as it stands. We heartily agree that the ONLY biblical (NT) mode of water baptism is immersion.

          The problem is NOT disagreement over recipient. Again, BOTH subcommittees have reaffirmed (more than once) their full support for BFC Article 20-1 as it stands. We heartily agree that the ONLY biblical (NT) recipient is one who has received Spirit baptism, or in the words of our Faith & Order, who has “by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, realized the forgiveness of sins and possesses the assurance of acceptance with God.”

          The problem is NOT disagreement over either the nature or the profundity of ‘Spirit baptism̓ (regeneration), or the necessity of ‘Spirit baptism̓ in order for a person to be redeemed. Although Subcommittee A has written more voluminously about this subject, Subcommittee B fully concurs and appreciates the depth of Subcommittee A̓s work in this area.

          Subcommittee A acknowledges this fact in its statement p. 3 “What is even more interesting is that paper B interprets these NT. statements of Spirit baptism in the same way as paper A. Despite this apparent agreement between the two papers problems arise.”

          The Problem IS whether or not water baptism should be required for membership in the BFC.


What gives rise to the disagreement between the two papers?


The Real Problem is a Differing approach to Scripture.

          Why do the subcommittees who interpret Spirit baptism the same way come to differing conclusions concerning water baptism? While there is a lot of unfortunate rhetoric over the authority of Scripture, the reality is both subcommittees have a high view of Scripture and a sincere desire to follow its teaching. It is subcommittee B̓s assertion that the primary difference is to be found in hermeneutics (our methodology of studying scripture.)

Subcommittee A states in its paper presented to subcommittee B on Dec. 17th, “The epistles say little about baptism in connection with membership, not because baptism was unimportant, but because the individuals were accepted as members of the church as visible because they gave evidence of being members of the church invisible.”

          Subcommittee B̓s response is that subcommittee A ignores the fact that the churches to whom the epistles were written needed not to be instructed in water baptism for they were already practicing water baptism as clearly evidenced by the many accounts in the book of Acts. The “evidence” that these believers gave that they were in the invisible church was that they were willing to follow the Lord in baptism.

Acts 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!

Acts 2:41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized: and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Subcommittee A also states in its paper presented to us on Dec. 17th “Another question arises could the emphasis on water baptism in the early church lack biblical basis in the light of the lesser emphasis on it in the epistles. Why should the teaching of the epistles be less significant in our formulations than the teaching and practice of the early church? This may sound heretical to students of church history, but failure to allow the NT to be determinative in our formulations is heretical to us.

          Subcommittee B̓s response is that the NT should be determinative of our teaching and practice. Subcommittee B respectfully points out that the NT also includes the Gospels and Acts. We do not equate the teaching and practice of the Gospel and Acts to be merely church history. One does a great injustice to the inspiration of Scripture to ignore the teaching of the book of Acts and write it off as simply the activity of the early church. Everything that paper A in the 1999 Yearbook has to state regarding the material on water baptism in the Gospels and Acts is contained in the following lines:

“The record is clear that Christ commanded baptism as part of the work of `making disciples,’ and the early church practiced baptism of believers. Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 2:38; 8:12,36. Today’s church must believe, teach and practice baptism of believers in obedience to Christ, Her Head.”

          Is that an exhaustive study of what Acts has to say on baptism and its relationship to entrance in the life of the church? Is that really all there is which is relevant to our present discussion? in a paper discussing baptism and church membership they do not even refer to Acts 2:41 let alone exegete it or even interact with it. Acts 2:41 (NASB) So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. How can one discuss the issue of baptism and membership and ignore this verse? How can one discuss this issue and ignore the book of Acts with its many other references. Why does Acts so painstakingly demonstrate that in every new region to which the Gospel came; converts were being baptized and uniting in fellowship?

          The reason that subcommittee A and subcommittee B come to different conclusions is because we practice a different hermeneutic. Subcommittee B believes that the practice of the early church in Acts as it relates to baptism is normative and a fulfillment of Christ’s command. Subcommittee B sees no conflict with the teaching of the epistles with that of the Acts and the Gospels. Where subcommittee A finds silence in the epistles, subcommittee B finds much rich and valuable information in the Acts and the Gospels.

          Subcommittee A has the difficulty of reconciling its understanding of the epistles with the practice of the early church and not merely the early church but with the book of Acts and the Gospels. Subcommittee B finds no such difficulty. We do not read anything in the epistles that negates the command of Christ nor censures the apostles for their practice of uniting believers with the visible church through water baptism. We interact with the epistles and present the reconciliation of such passages on pp. 197-200 of the 1999 Yearbook.

          Subcommittee A, which wrestles long and hard with Spirit baptism, gives little attention to the assignment which centers on water baptism. Why? Because they cannot find it in the epistles. While they have done good work in demonstrating that an individual becomes united to the invisible church through Spirit baptism, they have done poorly in wrestling with the relationship of water baptism and entrance into the visible church. They argue from a silence in the epistles while the Gospels and Acts shout for their attention. We suggest that we look for teaching on the subject where it is addressed as opposed to looking for it where it is not addressed. We disagree with the axiom that you cannot use the book of Acts for teaching. We do acknowledge that one must be careful in one̓s exegesis of Acts. However one cannot ignore Acts.

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

          Subcommittee B readily admits that there is not a perfect correlation between the invisible and the visible church. Certainly, not everyone who has received water baptism is truly born again and part of the invisible church. Nor, do we deny that a person can be born again and a part of the invisible church who has not been baptized with water. However, we do assert that there is a relationship that exists in the NT of being baptized in the Spirit and becoming part of the invisible church and being baptized by water and becoming a part of the visible church. One cannot simply remove the requirement of water baptism for membership in the visible church and thus make water baptism totally irrelevant to membership in the visible church and do justice to all of the biblical data.


So what is the real problem practically?

          There are many theological ‘head waters̓ and hence many varied currents and streams that feed into what today we call “the evangelical church” in America (and worldwide). Even setting aside the total spectrum of so-called theological ‘liberalism̓ (a misnomer for unbelief), we find that true Bible-believing Christians are divided over many issues. Baptism is just one of those questions that continues to vex and divide true believers.

          To various degrees, people come to our particular BFC churches with prior Theological baggage̓. This baggage may flow from family loyalties and represent many generations; or it may flow from personal experience and represent only one generation. Other people are strictly secular (America̓s own breed of paganism) and come to us with very little ‘cultural Christianity̓ or theological baggage. It is this subcommittee̓s contention that the last group (secular) is the one that is increasing, and therefore in the future represents the people with whom we most will have to deal.

          The real problem facing some of our BFC churches today is the rather painful situation encountered when people with prior cultural-Christian or maybe pseudoChristian ‘theological baggage̓ begin to attend a particular BFC church, and express a desire for membership among us. For us to suggest that their previous water baptism is somehow invalid based on either mode (e.g. sprinkling or pouring) or recipient (e.g. infant or otherwise unregenerate) seems to them offensive and to ourselves almost embarrassing. How do we defend our view of what we are persuaded the Bible teaches on these matters without appearing “narrow minded” and “unloving”?

          ONE possible Solution that has been proposed by Subcommittee A would be to accept them into membership without ANY requirement for ANY sort of water baptism. This certainly defuses a tough (and often very emotional) problem. The argument is that having thus “received them” into full membership we clearly communicate to them that we in no way “refuse them”, and now we will begin a lengthy, patient process of instruction that we pray will culminate some day in their obedience to Christ̓s clear command. In the meanwhile, we inform them that they may not teach in our churches or Sunday Schools, nor may the men aspire to become elders, until they DO “see the light” on this important matter and obey our Lord̓s command. In this model there appears to be no middle ground: i.e. to in any way delay their formal membership is interpreted as “rejecting those whom Christ has received”, and is tantamount to denying their personal testimony of Spirit baptism (regeneration).

          Is this the ONLY Solution? The church at Jerusalem in the fourth century, under men like Cyril (348-386 AD), often “received” people as ‘catechumens̓ but not full members until they were instructed in the faith and baptized by immersion. This approach evidently served at least two purposes:

1) it signaled to the applicants that they WERE BEING RECEIVED and WERE NOT BEING REJECTED by the visible church, even if the process of their formal and full membership was taking some time; and 2) it clearly signaled that water baptism by immersion was the only acceptable conclusion to a period of instruction from God̓s word. How long it took any particular group of ‘catechumens̓ to prepare for water baptism might have something to do with how ‘confused̓ they were (i.e. how much ‘theological baggage̓ they carried) before they started the process.


WHAT solution(s) have we found at the Kutztown BFC?


          It is interesting that the majority of the people whom we receive for baptism and membership at KBFC tend to be more of the secular (‘pagan American̓) variety, and thus carry less theological baggage than applicants at some of our sister churches. Perhaps this is a function of being in a ‘college town̓ with the secular Kutztown University in our backyard.

          As a result, the majority of our new member applicants readily accept believers̓ water baptism (via immersion) as an implicit act of obedience to Christ̓s clear and obvious command~and there is little or no delay. Those others (a minority) who have carried prior ‘baggage̓ have felt warmly received and embraced as brothers and sisters in Christ, but have submitted to a time of instruction prior to formal recognition of membership with us. The delay in such formal membership has NOT cast a shadow of doubt over the validity of their regeneration (‘Spirit baptism̓) nor the vigorous mutual practice of the many love and serve “one another” commands in the New Testament. In effect, these people have sojourned joyfully with us as our ‘catechumens̓ (without using that word!), have fully realized their status as fellow believers in training, and usually have come all the way through to obedience in a year or two. A few who have taken longer are usually troubled by more emotional issues: e.g. “I can see that I should be immersed as an adult, but I̓m afraid I will offend my parents who had me baptized as an infant. Will they feel that I am rejecting them?” (We counsel them to thank their parents for ‘dedicating̓ them in the best way they knew how, but that now. . .in the light of God̓s word. . . they see the need to make a public profession of their own faith as an adult believer, as Christ has commanded. This usually has worked well.) The bottom line is that we at KBFC have seen far fewer of the “tough cases” than our sister churches (e.g. Oley, Stroudsburg, etc.) have apparently experienced, It is this author’s opinion that what we face at KBFC is more the “cutting edge” for what we can expect in the future (a more pervasive secularization of the American culture in the decades to come), and that the problems faced by our sister churches are really an ‘older paradigm that will probably continue to fade with time as ‘cultural American Christianity̓ is increasingly marginalized. A new, and spiritually and intellectually vigorous, form of Christianity is what we need (i.e. a reformation). and may God grant that along with this renewed expression of faith we may find the courage to both expound and exalt believers̓ baptism as the elementary and glorious act of visible initiation that the New Testament has always taught! Now is NOT the time to weaken our understanding nor our swift obedience to this majestic command of our risen Lord and reigning King. IF we have been guilty of making believers̓ baptism an ‘empty ritual̓ or perfunctory act devoid of rich doctrinal meaning and God-ordained symbolism, let us REPENT! Let us REPENT, NOT by ignoring or further delaying our obedience, but by vigorously teaching the full riches of this clear and simple act of implicit obedience! Let us not seek to be wiser than our Head who laid down this rule for our mutual benefit.


Additional questions that we all need to ponder:


          1. Subcommittee A has stated (on p. 3, middle of page, in a 14 page paper published and distributed to Subcommittee B on December 17, 1999): “Spirit baptism and water baptism were much more closely related in Paul̓s thinking than in the thinking of Paper B. Ought not these be related to one another in a way closer to the New Testament̓s description of their relationship?”


Subcommittee B responds: “If Spirit and water baptism are to be kept more closely united (and we agree that they should be!), why would we not require BQTH for membership? WHY would we seek to separate them by requiring only one? How can an applicant for formal membership with us in the BFC (and hence in our expression of the visible church of Jesus Christ on earth today) profess that he or she has received true ‘Spirit baptism̓ and yet REFUSE water baptism for himself/herself? What are we to think in such a case? If we accept the testimony of the one without the other, won̓t we indeed be guilty of further separating these two baptisms? And won̓t we be the ones driving the wedge, rupturing the vital mutual connection and rich symbolism and implicit doctrinal instruction inherent in the water baptism taught and commanded by Christ?


          2. Subcommittee A has asked (Ibid., bottom of p. 3): “Does not this separation of the symbol from the reality of which it speaks create a new problem, namely, the division of the church as visible from the church as invisible by a distance farther than the New Testament allows? We do not want to make that kind of separation, do we?”


Subcommittee B responds: “NO, we don̓t! We agree with you. in principle, but disagree on the means to accomplish this unity of the visible and invisible church.” Note to the reader: Subcommittee A would amend Section 202-3.1 of our BFC Principles of Order by deleting the line “be baptized by immersion subsequent to salvation” whereas Subcommittee B would retain it. The question is simply this: which strategy would best retain the unity we both desire between the symbol and the reality of which it speaks?


          3.Subcommittee B now asks:

          A. Is water baptism (by immersion) only, an ordinance for the ‘spiritually mature̓? or is it an initiatory act of obedience, and a symbolic ordinance of ‘Spirit baptism̓ that should not be unduly delayed or separated?


Note to the reader Subcommittee A has stated (lbid., bottom of p. 12) “There are not two distinct baptisms. There is one baptism with an inner work done by Christ in the Spirit and with an external work done by men in water. Properly these cannot be separated nor confused.” If that is true then one is doing a disservice in allowing an individual who is a Spirituality-baptized member of the invisible church to become a rnember of the visible church without ever following the Lord̓s command with regard to water baptism.


          B. What is the Biblical demarcation for membership in the visible church? The external evidence for an internal work of grace? In NT categories, if it is not submission to water baptism (immersion), then what is it?


NOTE to the reader: Subcommittee A has stated (Ibid., middle of p.12, citing F.F.Bruce n Ephesians 4:4,5) “Baptism in water continued to be the outward and visible sign by which individuals who believed the gospel, repented of their sins, and acknowledged Jesus as Lord, were publicly incorporated into His Spirit-baptized fellowship --‘baptized into Christ̓ (Gal. 3:27). It must be remembered that in NT times repentance and faith, regeneration and conversion, baptism in water, reception of the Holy Spirit, incorporation into Christ, admission to church fellowship, and first communion were ALL parts of a single complex of events which took place within a very short time, and not always in a uniform order. Logically they were distinguishable. but in practice they were all bound up with the transition from the old life to the new.

          When one argues for a membership that does not require water baptism then one wonders what that membership looks like. What man-made ordinances are going to replace Christ̓s ordinance?


          C. What relation is there between the participle “baptizing them” and the main imperative verb “make disciples” in the ‘Great Commission̓ of our King (Matthew 28:19? What is the force of that participle? How shall we understand it and implement it today in our desire to “make disciples of all nations”? What sort of discipleship is it that would encourage a lengthy delay in a professing believers response to this apparent command? Is it true in cases like this that”delayed obedience is a form of disobedience”? Could we, perhaps unwittingly, find ourselves sharing their guilt if we mislead new believer’s as to the importance of prompt obedience to the obvious?


          D. We clearly and rightly reject any notions of so-called ‘baptismal regeneration̓ (the idea that the ordinance of water baptism is somehow efficacious or meritorious, producing the very effects that it was designed to merely symbolize). However, is it possible that the refusal to submit to water baptism (immersion) could impede one̓s early growth in holiness and sanctification?


NOTE to the reader: In Luke 7:29, 30 we read that “all the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus̓ words, acknowledged that God̓s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God̓s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.” Do we see here a ‘judicial hardening of heart̓ for those who had earlier refused John̓s baptism? Might we not expect a similar result (a lesser illumination by the Spirit to grasp truth?) for those who dare to refuse the greater baptism that superseded John̓s?


          E. Subcommittee A proposes that we demand that “elders and teachers in our churches” submit to water baptism (by immersion), but not all members. Does this not erect a man-made criteria for elders and teachers not found in Scripture? Dare we add to the Holy Spirit̓s criteria for ascertaining the qualifications of men who desire this “noble task” of overseer in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (and Titus 1:6-9)? Having artificially removed the command for water baptism from its original context (Matthew 28:19), will we compound our guilt by seeking to insert it in another context where it does not belong? The proposal of subcommittee A regarding a requirement for elders and teachers to be baptized by water illustrates just one of many problems that removing water baptism from church membership creates.


NOTE to the reader: Subcommittee A has stated (Ibid., middle of p.9 under its “Conclusion”) “We further propose that elders and teachers in our Churches be chosen from among those members who accept all of our Articles of Faith including obeying our Lord̓s command to be immersed.”


          F.       Are there areas where we DO need to repent?

          May I repeat: If we have been guilty of making believers̓ baptism an ‘empty ritual̓ or perfunctory act devoid of rich doctrinal meaning and God-ordained symbolism, let us REPENT! Let us REPENT, NOT by ignoring or further delaying our obedience, but by vigorously teaching the full riches of this clear and simple act of implicit obedience! Let us not seek to be wiser than our Head who laid down this rule for our mutual benefit.


          G. Are we creating a needless “panic” over this whole issue? If we have steadfastly endured the past 50 or 100 years, during which time these sorts of painful encounters have undoubtedly peaked, and have sought in every case to faithfully proclaim the truth in love to those individuals whom God has sent to us, do we need to make drastic changes now? As the population in America shifts from ‘culturally Christian̓ to ‘pervasively secular̓, will we not do well to follow Paul̓s example in Acts 20:27? i.e. “For I have not hesitated (kept back, shunned) to declare unto you all the counsel (the whole will) of God.̓ And the result for Paul was a clear conscience:

‘Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26).

          May the Lord enable the BFC in this new century that has just dawned to be equally confident that we have not hesitated to declare (and require) God̓s will in all matters, including (and even especially) this most basic and elementary step of implicit obedience by the new and immature believers under our care.


Subcommittee B


          WILL YOU INTERACT?

          WILL YOU POINT OUT WHERE THIS IS WRONG?

December 17, 1999


          Two papers were presented to the 116th Annual Conference addressing the relationship between water baptism and church membership.

          Paper A proposed that immersion and membership in the church visible be practiced, but separated. This created anxiety in some about dc-emphasis on immersion.

          Paper B proposed that immersion and membership in the church visible be equated. This created anxiety in some about over-emphasis on immersion.

          • Are you uncomfortable:

- Accepting for membership unimmersed true believers?

- Rejecting for membership unimmersed true believers?

          • If so, why? On what biblical basis?

          • If no, why? On what biblical basis?

          From the floor at the 116th Annual Conference it was proposed that other modes of baptism ought to be acceptable if the water were applied to professed believers. This created anxiety in some about the seriousness with which we hold our convictions about immersion.

          All of these anxieties are increased by the lightness with which the professed Bible-believing churches of our generation regard both baptism and church membership.

          How can we resolve these issues maintaining our commitment to the Bible as the final authority in faith and practice?

          The following are some observations and questions which have risen in the minds of those who are committed to the viewpoint of Paper A (Carl Cassel, Don Kirkwood, Clayton Weber, Byron Widger). We seek open, earnest discussion of the New Testament data in seeking answers to these questions. What texts are we missing, misinterpreting or overstating?


1. What Does the NT Teach about the Relationship Between Baptism in the Spirit and Baptism in Water?


Paper B Proposes Too Wide a Separation Between Water Baptism and Baptism in the Spirit.


          Can we begin by looking first at the biblical teaching on baptism?

          The NT refers to what appears to be two baptisms. One of these is baptism by a human agent in water (Matthew 28:18-20); the other is baptism by Christ in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12: 13). But the NT says: “there is one baptism” (Ephesians 4.7).

          How can we harmonize these apparently contradictory statements from the NT?

          Paper A recognizes the existence and need for both water baptism and baptism in the Spirit; it also sees these as closely related to one another. Baptism in the Spirit is the necessary and universal experience of all believers; it is another way of speaking of regeneration or the new birth. Paper A also teaches that water baptism is an outward sign of the work of regeneration or baptism in the Spirit; every believer by the nature of the case must experience the first and every believer on the command of Christ should also experience the second.


Evidence of this from Paper A


          See discussion of the following texts in Paper A, ‘99 Yearbook, pp. 180-184 (end of first full paragraph.

          Matthew 28:18-20 water baptism commanded by Christ.

          Acts 2:38; 8:12,36 water baptism practiced by early church.

Romans 6:3,4 being baptized into Christ Jesus is being united with Him in His death and raised to new life (Spirit baptism). See Note 1 (page 201)

I Corinthians 6:11 if washing means baptism, it must be regeneration (Spirit baptism).

Ephesians 5:26 if washing means baptism, it must be regeneration (Spirit baptism).

Galatians 3:26-28 the baptism mentioned here is “putting on Christ” which is different from water baptism (Spirit baptism).

I Corinthians 12:13 This baptism is called “baptism in the Spirit”.

Ephesians 4:5 This calls loudly for a close tie between Spirit baptism and water baptism. See Note 2 (page 203)

Colossians 2:11-14 What is spoken of here is called both circumcision and baptism; but when it is accomplished “not with hands”, it indicates Spirit baptism rather than water baptism is the point Paul makes.

Titus 3:5 Any mention of baptism seen here speaks of the work of the Spirit.

          Paper A acknowledges both baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water and also sees them closely related to each other. In the ‘99 Yearbook, pg. 183 we say:

1) A linking of Spirit/water baptism (I Cor. 12: 13, Eph. 4:5; 5:26).

2) An emphasis on regeneration (Eph. 5:26; Titus 3:5).

3) A new life results (I Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:11-14).

4) The believer died and rose with Christ (Rom. 6; Gal. 3:26-28).

5) The Spirit-baptized believer is a member of Christ̓s body, the Church (I Cor. 12:1~3,27).

          Paper B makes the separation between baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water so great that they are disconnected. in fact Paper B says very little about baptism in the Spirit beyond acknowledging that the NT speaks about it.


Evidence of this from Paper B.

 

p. 187, third paragraph --Spirit baptism brings individuals into union with the invisible church.

p.196, VI, -- the Holy Spirit brings Jew and Gentile together by Spiritual baptism.

p. 196, A, -- Jew and Gentile become one through Spiritua1 baptism.

p. 196, B,3 -- Water baptism illustrated what had been accomplished through spiritual baptism.

p. 200, 4 -- an actual unity that is accomplished through Spiritual baptism.

          These citations from Paper B are the only references to baptism in the Spirit in Paper B. What is even more interesting is that Paper B interprets these NT statements in the same way as Paper A.

          Despite this apparent agreement between the two papers, problems arise.

1) Is there not a closeness in the way the NT speaks of baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water in the NT which fails to come through in Paper B?

2) Does not Paper B give significance to water baptism not taught by the NT and not associated with baptism in the Spirit in the NT?

3) Does not admitting that baptism in the Spirit unites a believer with the church as invisible, but allowing the application of water to separate from the church visible those united to the church as invisible clearly demonstrate that the church as visible has added rules contrary to Christ and Scripture?

          Paper B speaks frequently about water baptism, but it never seeks to connect baptism in the Spirit and water baptism. Spirit baptism and water baptism were much more closely related in Paul̓s thinking than in the thinking of Paper B. Ought not these be related to one another in a way closer to the NT̓s description of their relationship?

          The text of the NT speaks of individuals baptized in the Spirit or regenerate being part of the church. This clearly means the church as invisible. When we say individuals are part of the church as invisible, but without immersion those individuals are excluded from the church as visible are we not adding rules which change what the Lord says about the church?

          In Articles 18 and 20 of our Faith we declare that regeneration unites individuals to the family of God (make them members of the body). This fits the NT data.

          Section 202-3. 1 calls for the refusal to acknowledge this relationship with those who are regenerate but are not immersed. This does not fit the NT data.

          To conform to the NT data we need to acknowledge the close relationship of baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water, and therefore we would change section 202-3.1 to cease to require immersion prior to acknowledging membership in the church as visible. Does not this separation of the symbol from the reality of which it speaks create a new problem, namely, the division of the church as visible from the church as invisible by a distance farther than the NT allows? We do not want to make that kind of separation, do we?


2. What Does the NT Teach about the Church and Her Head?

How Is His Rule Manifested in the Church as Visible and in the

Church as Invisible?


Paper B Creates Too Wide a Separation Between the Church Invisible and the Church as Visible.


          From the uniform emphasis of Scripture one can see an almost inseparable conjunction of Spirit baptism and water baptism, this conjunction is absent from Paper B. Because Paper B disjoined the church as visible from the church as invisible, it finds support for a similar disjoining of Spirit baptism and water baptism.

          As the NT refers to what appears to be two baptisms yet insists on there being “one baptism”, so the NT also refers to a manifestation of the church as a visible entity and also as an entity which is invisible; and yet it insists on there being only one church, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. The NT insists that Christ is the only head, the only one given authority in all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22,23). Setting aside for the moment the distinction between the church universal and particular churches, we hear the NT strongly insisting that there is only one church despite its allowing that that church is known as a visible and as an invisible body. When we deal with baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water as if they are not related or at least not closely related, we imply different rules and procedures in these two manifestations of the church. This is wrong. Does not this singularity of the church of Christ taught by Scripture bring the visible to be based on the invisible? Should not this make water baptism an outgrowth of baptism in the Spirit? The separation between baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water subordinates regeneration, elevates immersion, defranchises individuals whom Christ has received and thereby establishes a second church with an undefined head and a practice not based on Scripture.

          When Paper B acknowledges that baptism in the Spirit brings people into union with the church as invisible and then states that those not immersed are excluded from the church as visible, we are forced to ask on whose authority such rules are made?

          Paper B is not consistent in applying its contention that immersion is the mark of membership in the church as visible. This inconsistency is the root of the evidence that this position divides improperly between the church as visible and the church as invisible. By erecting for regenerate saints barriers barring them from reception into the church as visible, Paper B creates a church alien to the NT. The question raised by this is: Who is Head of that church? Paper B claims that regenerate people who are not yet immersed are not part of the church as visible, yet those who advocate that position are part of allowing and inviting non-members of the church as visible to teach us in BFCes and at our denominational gatherings. This implies that BFC has some special rules which do not apply to other manifestations of Christ̓s body or that the distance between the visible and invisible manifestations of Christ̓s body is so wide that we have the right to do this.

          We ought not separate ourselves from the rest of the church as visible unless we seek to make ourselves the only manifestation of the body of Christ. We certainly do not want to do that, do we? But neither ought we to suppress the importance of regeneration and elevate the importance of water baptism beyond what the NT does. Is that not what we do when we acknowledge another to be regenerate but refuse to acknowledge him as part of the body because of his not having been immersed? On what basis do we do this?

          BFC here has an opportunity to call people to see that though there is a church as invisible and a church as visible, yet these are closely related and our responsibility is to conform the church as visible to the work that God has done in the church as invisible. This means accepting those whom Christ has received and teaching them what He says about baptism; it also means that we are committed to these things because the Particular Church is not alone, but is part of the body of churches where Christ is head. Even though other churches have different doctrines and practices, we ought not treat them as if they are not part of the body of Christ. If regenerate, they too are our brothers. We must accept all that Christ has accepted and shape our part of His vineyard to His standards.

          BFC is committed in Article 18 to the conformity of the church as visible to the church as invisible being the pattern. BFC is also committed in Article 203-4 to the authority of Christ being the only authority in the church.

          Our commitment in Articles of Faith match the NT data, but we need to bring our Order to conform to our stated belief


3. When We Seek to Listen to the Whole NT - the Epistles as Well as the Gospels and Acts, How Do We Relate Properly the Emphasis on Regeneration with the Emphasis on Church Membership?


Paper B Separates Too Widely Between Regeneration and Church Membership.


          Paper A asserts that the practice of water baptism is a God-given responsibility, but denies that the NT says it is to be equated with membership in the church as visible or required for such membership.

          From its practice in choosing leaders and from statements about excommunication, we learn that the early church knew which people were part of her and which were not. Aside from this little is said about membership in the church as visible in the NT. Is one reason for this that the NT views regeneration and baptism in the Spirit as membership (1 Cor 12:13,27)? Is not I Corinthians 12 speaking of that particular church rather than the church universal? that this baptism equals membership in the church as visible? All of Christ̓s commands should be obeyed. Believers should be immersed The claim of Paper B that acknowledging regenerate people who have not been immersed is disregard for the authority of Christ is overstatement. Christ commanded us to baptize believers as an outward testimony of union with Him. How do Christ̓s words in Matthew 28:20 equate water baptism with membership in the church as visible? Peter commanded reluctant Jewish believers to baptize Gentiles. How do his words equate water baptism and membership in the church as visible?

          The Epistles say little about baptism in connection with membership not because baptism is unimportant, but because the individuals were accepted as members of the church as visible because they gave evidence of being members of the church as invisible.

          In Ephesians 2:1 Paul begins with individuals dead in sin; he speaks of them being regenerated (made alive) by God̓s work in them (vv.4-6); through v.10 he speaks of other aspects of this work in individual believers. In v.11 there is a shift of emphasis, but the verse begins with the word “therefore”. What does that word mean about the connection between vv. 1-10 and vv. 11-22? Can we ignore its meaning? Without reference to water baptism the remainder of the chapter speaks of those brought to life by God being built into this “one new man” — make participants in His building. See further discussion of this in Paper A, ‘99 Yearbook, pp.180-185.

          Regeneration and membership are more closely related in the NT than many Bible preaching churches consider them to be.

          Our history commits us to the “gathered church”: that means only regenerate people are members of the church as invisible and only regenerate should be acknowledged as members of the church as visible.

          Paedo baptist churches identify children of believers with the church through their practice of applying water to minors. Many of them are later regenerated and truly become part of the church, Others are never regenerated but have the partial connection established by the early application of water. This is an illustration of the problems created by beginning with the church as visible rather than beginning with the church as invisible. Our “gathered

church” concept enables us to avoid this problem.

          The stress between “one church” with dual manifestations and a two-church track — a visible church and an invisible church — is real. Paedo baptists include people who are not regenerate; traditional ‘gathered churches̓ exclude some whom Christ has received. Stuart R. Jones addresses this struggle in an article entitled, “The Visible Church.” In it he calls attention to this problem. There is no easy solution, but we cannot ignore the issue. The church is one church with its invisible reality controlling as fully as humanly possible its visible manifestation. If Christ and the church as invisible are to control our work, we must bring the church as visible to conform to the church as invisible. See Note 3 (page 204).

          BFC Articles 18 and 20 commit us to the things Scripture and our history demonstrate clearly.

          Ought we not bring our Order into conformity to our Articles of Faith by altering Article 202-3.1?


4. When We Seek to Listen to the Whole Nt as the Authoritative Word of God, How Do We Allow Scripture to Have Higher Authority than Church History?


Paper B Espouses a Position Favored by Church History, but Allows History to Have Greater Authority than Scripture.


          Some loudly ask: How can we hold the position of Paper A in the light of so much of the church as visible requiring baptism for membership?

          The comparative silence in the epistles about baptism and the apparent emphasis on baptism in the early church fathers calls another issue to our attention. Could the problem here be that a great many churches throughout history have over-emphasized water baptisms. This is clear in churches which are not ‘gathered̓ in their concept of membership. They do not expect individuals to be regenerate in order to be members and therefore make statements about the importance of baptism which have no relevance to a church such as ours. We clearly declare, both from our history and from exegesis, that only regenerate people are part of the church.

          The quote at the beginning of Paper B from Philip Schaff (History of the Christian Church, 1, 466-467), makes baptism the determining issue in church membership, by saying: “It [baptism] took the place of circumcision as a sign and seal of church membership . . . It incorporates the penitent sinner in the visible church, and entitles him to all the privileges, and binds him to all the duties of this communion.” This sounds good, but Schaff sprinkled minors–not penitent sinners. Therefore those comments do not apply to BFC.

          Another problem arises when we find Schaff saying on page 471 of the same book that ‘baptism̓ entitles one to all the privileges and binds him to all the duties of this communion “its meaning, and its practice a profanation, except on the condition” of instruction, and intelligent and free confession of Christ. See Note 4 (page 205).

          How can we accept Schaff as an authority about the importance of baptism in the church as visible when he “sprinkles” people not ready for immersion and denies that his ‘sprinkling̓ does what he first claimed for it?

          Why should such a claim shape our formulations?

          But another question rises. Could the emphasis on water baptism in the early church lack biblical basis in the light of the lesser emphasis on it in the epistles? Why should the teaching of the epistles be less significant in our formulations than the teaching and practice of the early church?

          This may sound heretical to students of church history, but failure to allow the NT to be determinative in our formulations is heretical to us.

          Although the practice of many in the early church may have been to insist on a form of baptism to which Schaff would not subscribe, yet the emphasis on baptism in the epistles is not similar to that of the early church. Should not our conviction that the Bible and the Bible alone is the final authority in faith and practice prevail here? On what grounds should we set it aside?

          BFC is committed in Articles 1 and 201-2 to the teaching that Scripture is the final authority in faith and practice.

          Let us practice what we say we believe.


5. On What Basis Can We Continue to Affirm Our Definition from Scripture That Baptism Is Immersion and Yet Accept Other Modes as If They Were Baptism?


Papers a and B Agree That Our Concept of Baptism Is and Should Remain Immersion of Professed Believers.


          Without a change in Article 20, we have no basis to call any other application of water to minors or to professed believers “baptism”, despite what other denominations and individual congregations practice.

          We cannot ignore the confusion and de-emphasis on baptism caused by the differences over what baptism is. We cannot change history. We must deal with it.

          It may be “appalling” to some to refuse to call other applications of water “baptism,” but what choices do we have?

a) We can accept other modes of baptism for regenerate people; but this causes us to compromise the convictions we have stated in Article 20.

b) We can continue to practice immersion only and insist on it prior to recognition as part of the church as visible thereby excluding from our life some who have been taught regeneration is not necessary for baptism or that other applications of water are acceptable; but this causes us to reject some whom Christ has received.

c) We can continue to practice immersion only and accept those who have been regenerate into membership, and teach them to be immersed prior to allowing them to serve as elders or teachers; but this opens us to accusation of devaluing water baptism.

          None of these alternatives is without problems. “C” is the best in the light of exegesis and church history. It allows us to accept those whom Christ has accepted and to hold our convictions about immersion.


CONCLUSION

          Therefore we propose that BFC continue in its ‘gathered church̓ conviction and accept only regenerate people into her membership.

          We also propose that consistent with the leadership of our Head that we recommend the Annual Conference change 202-3.1 to drop the requirement of immersion prior to membership enabling us to receive all whom Christ receives.

          We further propose that elders and teachers in our churches be chosen from among those members who accept all of our Articles of Faith including obeying our Lord̓s command to be immersed.




Notes

NOTE 1 - (from page 192)


What does Romans 6:3,4 say?


          “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

          1. Here Paul speaks of “baptism.” Does he intend “water baptism” or some other “baptism”?

          The inclusiveness of his statements says that he is addressing something which has indeed happened to all Christians. Is there any true believer who can rightly adopt the attitude that “we are to continue in sin that grace might increase”? Or may those not immersed be allowed “to continue in sin that grace might increase”? All of Christ̓s people have been received by the “baptism” spoken of here.

          2. Is this a universal baptism in the Spirit or a universal baptism in water? Is this some blending of these so that they are almost indistinguishable?

          R. E. 0. White is helpful in answering these questions. He posits the possibility that the baptism Paul mentions here is only a symbol or that it is a sacrament in the ex opere operato significance of that term. Coming from our kind of background, we more quickly see the error of the sacramentalist view of baptism. We need to consider more carefully the symbolic view of baptism.

          In his book, The Biblical Doctrine of Initiation, R. E. 0 White discusses on pp. 215-222 both of these possibilities. Here we take note of his discussion of Paul̓s meaning in Romans 6 something symbolic only. To understand baptism as a “reenactment” of what happened to Christ or a “mere mimed symbolism” without a necessary connection to any outward act is all too popular in the church today, but it is inadequate. To understand baptism as a ritual going through which makes a difference in the candidate̓s life without addressing the need for faith is simply another inadequate understanding of Paul in Romans 6 and Colossians 2. Every argument Paul brings against circumcision is equally telling against a mechanically “sacramentalist” view of baptism.


What then does Paul mean?


          He speaks of a work of God which is part of the life of each true believer. The imperatives (commands) of Romans 6 are based not on a symbolic re-enactment of something, but on an event that took place personally. “Baptism is not merely symbolic rite. We are concerned with actual fact. . . . There is a comparison between what has happened to Christ and what has happened to us in our baptism. . . not between what happens in baptism symbolically and what happened to Christ in historical fact.. . but between what happened to Christ in fact and what in actual fact happens to us in baptism. . . What happened to Christ in His death and resurrection happens to us also in baptism. It is a comparison which identifies the event in baptism with the death and resurrection of Christ for us” (Emphasis added).

          On the basis of what has actually happened, we are called upon to act. The imperatives are based on the indicative. Could it be that the inability of many Christians to obey the moral imperatives grows out of our failure to teach them that something in fact happened to us in our baptism. “Making all allowance for Paul̓s imprecision in handling metaphors, it is not enough to say that he points to baptism as a neat theatrical illustration of an attitude which ought constantly to characterize the Christian: Rather he points to baptism as the moment when the Christian did indeed die with Christ to sin.”

          Thus Paul̓s discussion of baptism speaks of an inner spiritual work in the believer. This inner work is the beginning of new life and incorporation into the body of Christ. This inner work is also demonstrated visibly in water baptism.


NOTE 2 - (from p.192)


What does Ephesians 4:4,5 say?

“There is.. .one baptism.


          In discussing this text F. F. Bruce in his commentary on Ephesians makes statements which help to clarify these things. “.. . when water-baptism and Spirit-baptism are set in opposition in the NT, the water-baptism is John̓s baptism. When our Lord said, “John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5), He did not mean that water-baptism would be superseded with baptism with the Spirit. On the contrary, when the descent of the Spirit on the first Gentile believers reminded Peter of these words of his Lord (Acts 11:16), the first thing he did was to command these converts ‘to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ̓ (Acts 10:48), and it is made quite plain that this was water-baptism. Water-baptism remains in force throughout the Christian age, although it has richer significance from the saving work of Christ and the bestowal of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit which it was our Lord̓s prerogative to impart took place primarily on the day of Pentecost when He poured forth ‘the promise of the Father’ on His disciples and thus constituted them the Spirit-baptized fellowship of the people of God. Baptism in water continued to be the outward and visible sign by which individuals who believed the gospel, repented of their sins, and acknowledged Jesus as Lord, were publicly incorporated into his Spirit-baptized fellowship--baptized into Christ̓ (Gal. 3:27). It must be remembered that in NT times repentance and faith, regeneration and conversion, baptism in water, reception of the Holy Spirit, incorporation into Christ, admission to church fellowship and first communion were all parts of a single complex of events which took place within a very short time, and not always in a uniform order. Logically they were distinguishable, but in practice they were all bound up with the transition from the old life to the new. Consequently, what was logically true of one specific part of the complex experience might be predicated of the whole experience, or something that was more particularly applicable to one part might be transferred in speech or writing to another part.

These considerations may help evangelical readers of the NT who feel uneasy when baptism or water is referred to as the instrument of regeneration, or of entering into membership of Christ̓s body. it is, moreover, a natural use of language when a symbol is said to affect that which, in strict fact, it symbolizes. But the NT epistles were not addressed to theologians, accustomed to hair-spitting distinctions, but to very ordinary Christians, who would inevitably think of their own baptism in water when they read the word ‘baptism,̓ unless the context made it quite clear that another baptism was meant.” (Bold Emphasis added.)

          There are not two distinct baptisms. There is one baptism with an inner work done by Christ in the Spirit and with an external work done by men in water. Properly these cannot be separated nor confused.



NOTE 3 - (from page 198)


How can we rid ourselves of our problem?


          “in the church but not of it” is a Presbyterian problem.

          “of the church but not in it” is a BFC problem.


          “Though the language invisibility and visibility may suggest to some the problematic notion of two churches, this does not reflect the position of the reformers or the Westminster Divines. The issue can be focused by considering a so-called ‘unregenerate church member.̓ This individual is sometimes said to be ‘in the church but not of it.̓ What is one to say of the regenerate man who is not a member of some local congregation? It is tempting to reverse the formula and say he is ‘of the church but not in it.̓ Such formulations too easily distort the picture because they are employed to address anomalies. It is axiomatic that the ‘regenerate̓ are vitally connected to Christ. The church is, among other things, the body of Christ, consisting of members vitally connected to Him. It is no solution to define the church entirely in terms of its institutional and visible qualities. However dangerous this observation may seem for biblical ecumenicity and the knowability of the true church, we must finally confess that the Lord knows His body in a way that we do not. This observation, far from being scholastic, provides a wonderful comfort and assurance for the true member of Christ̓s body.


Stuart R. Jones, The Visible Church, Westminster Theological Journal, Volume 59, Spring 1997, p. 85


NOTE 4 - (from page 199)


How does church history address the problem of “baptism”?


          Paper B quotes Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, I, 476-477, to support the idea that church history calls us to hold that water baptism is the defining act in the church as visible.

          The IDEA of Baptism. It was solemnly instituted by Christ, shortly before his ascension, to be performed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It took the place of circumcision as a sign and seal of church membership.. . It is the outward sign of Christian discipleship, the rite of initiation into the covenant of grace.. . . It incorporates the penitent sinner in the visible church, and entitles him to all the privileges, and binds him to all the duties of this communion.” (Bold Emphasis is from Paper B.)

          Although this quotation sounds similar to the practice of many churches with a ‘gathered̓ concept of membership, it is important to notice another quotation from the same volume on page 471:

          “We must add, however, that infant baptism is unmeaning, and its practice a profanation, except on the condition of Christian parentage or guardianship, and under the guarantee of a Christian education. And it needs to be completed by an act of personal consecration, in which the child, after due instruction in the gospel, intelligently and freely confesses Christ, devotes himself to his service, and is thereupon solemnly admitted to the full communion of the church and to the sacrament of the holy Supper. The earliest traces of confirmation are supposed to be found in the apostolic practice of laying on hands, or symbolically imparting the Holy Spirit, after baptism.”

          Are not we — with our ‘gathered church̓ convictions — offended by these two contradictory statements?



[The following was the response of the Annual Conference of 2000 to the preceding material -


Report of the Study Committee on Baptism and Church Membership (see pg)

          Resolved, that the report be accepted.


          Paul G. Zimmerman prayed for the Lord’s direction in the vote to be taken on the recommendations of subcommittee A of the Study Committee on Baptism and Church Membership.


          The following resolution was defeated.

 

Whereas, the NT teaches that there is “one baptism” and “one body” despite also teaching that there is baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water and teaching that the church has universal and particular manifestations; and

Whereas, baptism in the Spirit and the church universal are the realities of which baptism in water and Particular Churches and their unions are representations; and

Whereas, the representations must be based on the realities; and

Whereas, baptism in water is a visible declaration of the life given to those born of the Spirit (baptized in the Spirit); and membership in the church visible a declaration of the union with other regenerate or Spirit-baptized people; and

Whereas, there is in church history and in practice today diversity of conviction about the identity of proper candidates for and proper mode of water baptism, and diversity of conviction about the meaning of membership in the church visible; and

Whereas, Bible Fellowship Church is convinced from Scripture of its “gathered church” (regenerate membership) position and its reformed understanding of redemption (that God initiates our salvation in election and brings it to fulfillment in the death of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit applying Christ̓s work to us individually), and its conviction that there is only one church which is Christ̓s, not ours, and the union of congregations under His headship; therefore be it

Resolved, that we recommend to the Annual Conference that we reaffirm the following:

(1) that only those who are regenerated by God and baptized in the Holy Spirit are spiritually alive and all those who are so regenerated are spiritually alive (Article 14--Regeneration);

(2) that only those and all those so regenerated and baptized are members of the church of Jesus Christ (Article 18 - The Church);

(3) that all those born from above (regenerate) and baptized in the Spirit should give outward evidence of the inward work of God by being immersed in water (Article 20-1); and further

Resolved, that we recommend to the Annual Conference that we declare:

(1) that membership means the individual professes to have been born from above and that the church accepts that person as part of the body; membership means “life” not “maturity”.

(2) that F & 0, 202-3.1 be revised to read as follows:

“Anyone desiring to be a member of the BFC shall give testimony of faith in Christ and the new birth. He shall be in sympathy with the F & 0 and manifest holiness toward God and separation from the world (Acts 2:41-47).”


YES - 19 NO - 112]