Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reisinger's Error on Baptism


Ernest Reisinger [1919-2004] was the Founder of the Founders Ministries, and the driving force of this movement's becoming a parachurch organization within the Southern Baptist Convention promoting elements of post-17th century Presbyterianism.

One of Reisinger's teachings, which we regard as being unbaptistic, is the idea that the act of baptism is a person's initial confession of faith.

This is the same idea promoted by Tom Nettles and Robert Selph, two of Reisinger's brethren, who are like-minded on this matter. Nettles' view is expressed in his book, By His Grace, and for His Glory (pages 421, 422). Selph expresses the same view in his book, Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election (page 132). Both Nettles and Reisinger are on record as endorsing Selph's book.

This idea of these Founders brethren is one of the devicies employed in their efforts to discredit the use of public invitations as practiced by Baptists.

In Reisinger's case, it is likely that he imbibed this idea from Pedobaptist Iain Murray who promulgated it in his widely distributed anti-invitation booklet, The Invitation System (page 9), as one of his objections to confessing Christ as Saviour during public invitations. Reisinger's association with Murray dates back at least to the early 1960s.

In Reisinger's own writings, I have found at least three material sources in which he advances the same view as Murray:

1. On the Founders' website, Coming to Christ #2 at

2. In the book, Today's Evangelism, pages 73, 89.

3. In the book, Worship, page 96.

Baptism is certainly a physical and visible ordinance commanded by the Lord as a means of identifying with Christ. But it was never intended to replace oral confession of faith in Christ as Saviour. The fact is, oral confession is a prerequisite to being baptized, and the public invitation is a very practical format in which such confession is accommodated.

Murray's committal to Pedobaptism would apparently account for his view, since pedobaptists teach that unbelieving infant children, born to Christian parents, are proper subjects of both baptism and church membership. No confession is required on the part of the infants themselves, although they are presumed to be "regenerated" on the basis of their being what is called "covenant children."

Murray would, I suppose, naturally oppose invitations which might create spiritual discomfort in the minds and hearts of pedobaptist teens and adults who were baptized as "covenant children" and have since lived "at ease in Zion." It is conceivable that some might awaken to the fact, as viewed by Baptists at least, that children born to believers are not born again in their infancy.


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