Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Old-fashioned, or new-Finnagled?


I noticed on Flounder Timmy Brister's blog the following attributed to Nathan Finn of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary staff:

"I am an old-fashioned Baptist who believes we should withhold baptism until a child is old enough to publicly identify with a local church through covenant, meaningful membership, though I would be reluctant to arbitrarily set a particular age requirement for baptism."

This read likes the "Deverite" doctrine.

"Old-fashioned Baptist"? What old-fashioned Baptist believed like Nathan Finn?

Dr. John Gill, an old-fashioned Baptist who lived from 1696-1771, the longstanding epitome of Baptist theology among Particular Baptists of England and the predecessor of C. H. Spurgeon, held that baptism was not a "church ordinance" (Body of Divinity, page 896.

Dr. Gill says that "a church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied they are baptized before they are admitted into communion with it . . . So Saul, when converted, was immediately baptized by Ananias, without any previous knowledge and consent of the church" (ibid).

If a person is "old enough" to believe and confess Christ as Savior, the person is old enough to be baptized in connection with that profession of faith. There is no "age requirement" in Scripture either for believing on Christ or being baptized. The only requirement is faith in Christ (John 3:14-18) for salvation and baptism.

The idea that you can avoid false professions by "withholding baptism" is no more valid in the case of children than for adults. Spurgeon, another old-fashioned Baptist, said he had more confidence in the professions of children than adults.

"The holy scripture may be learned by children as soon as they are capable of understanding anything," said Spurgeon; "Give us the first seven years of a child, with God's grace, and we may defy the world, the flesh, and the devil to ruin that immortal soul" (Vol. 31, page 579, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit).

In the sermon "Jesus and the Children," Spurgeon said:

"I could spend the whole morning in giving details of young children whom I have personally conversed with, some of them very young children indeed. I will say broadly that I have more confidence in the spiritual life of the children that I have received into this church than I have in the spiritual condition of the adults thus received. I will even go further than that, and say that I have usually found a clearer knowledge of the gospel and a warmer love to Christ in the child-converts than in the man converts. I will even astonish you still more by saying that I have sometimes met with a deeper spiritual experience in children of ten and twelve than I have in certain persons of fifty and sixty" (Vol. 32, page 570, MTP).

One of the most outstanding sermons dealing with child conversion is entitled, "The Children and Their Hosannas," preached in 1884 (MTP, Vol. 30, page 325-336). Spurgeon said:

"I am sure that children are capable of that early grace with which true religion usually begins, namely, that of deep repentance. . . . In many children whom I have known, repentance has been true, thorough, deep, intelligent, and lasting: they have found their way to the foot of the cross, and seen the great sacrifice, and have wept all the more to think that they should have offended against the love which so freely forgives. . . .

"As to faith, I am sure that no one who has seen converted children will ever doubt their capacity for faith. In the hand of God’s Spirit, a child’s capacity for faith is in some respects greater than that of a grown-up person; at any rate, the faith of children is usually far more simple than that of adults. . . .

"Oh, the sweet simplicity of childhood! The dear child has said, 'Jesus has forgiven me, I know. I stole away into a corner, and I told him that I had done wrong, but that I did love him; and I believe that he has even now blotted out my sin. I hope that I shall not do wrong again. Pray for me that I may be kept right, and may be pure and good, like the holy child Jesus.' . . . ."

"I am sure that I am not wrong when I say that children are capable of repentance and of a very high degree of faith. . . .

"What would you think if I introduced six children to you whom I saw one after another last week, and who all came forward with eagerness to say, ' We have been washed in the blood of Jesus, and we want to join his church.'

"I said, 'Come along, my children; I am glad to see you.' When I talked with them, and heard what God had done for them, I had great confidence in proposing them to the church. I have not found young converts turn back. I usually find that these young ones who are introduced early to the church hold on, and become our best members.

"No, dear friend, a converted child will give you evidences of true religion, not of perfect religion, for that you ought not to expect. Let the child avow its faith in Christ, and, if you have not confessed him yourself, stand rebuked that a child is ready to obey its Lord while you are not. . . ."

From: The Children and Their Hosannas (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 1785, Volume 30, Year 1884). A Sermon delivered on Wednesday evening, May 7, 1884, by C. H. Spurgeon, at Union Chapel, Islington. By request of the Sunday School Union. Text: Matthew 21:15, 16.

For more from Spurgeon on the conversion and baptism of children, see the articles we did on Mark Dever at the following links:

NOTE: Temporarily, in Charles' absence, comments for posting may be directed to Bob's email:


At Thursday, August 28, 2008 8:32:00 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Brother Bob:

In all of your quoting of Spurgeon on the conversion of children (both in this post, and the links to previous posts), I do not see ANYWHERE that he advocates baptizing them. You make an assertion in Dever part 3 that there were baptisms from those in his orphange, but without substantiation. It seems those that you are attacking today do not disagree with the notion that children can be converted (a la Spurgeon), just that it may be best to wait until they are baptized. Unless I am overlooking something, I see nothing in the material you quote from Spurgeon in which the prince of preachers advocates BAPTIZING these little ones. If you could just point out one instance that he did, I would be most appreciative.

At Tuesday, September 09, 2008 2:42:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


Mark said:

In all of your quoting of Spurgeon on the conversion of children (both in this post, and the links to previous posts), I do not see ANYWHERE that he advocates baptizing them.

In the sermon, "Do Not Sin Against the Child," in regard to converted children, Spurgeon said :

Let us judge them righteously, but let us not judge them censoriously. Let us be willing to receive them to Baptism and to the Lord’s Table, and when they are received, instead of thinking of them as though they were less valuable than other members, let us count them to be the very pride of the flock!

I hate to hear people say, “They have received a pack of children into the Church.”

“A pack of children,” yes, and if Jesus carries them in His bosom, surely you are not imitating Christ, nor exhibiting much of His spirit when you look down upon them and despise them! To me, one soul is as good as another. I rejoice as much in the addition of the poorest mechanic to this Church as if he were a peer of the realm!

I am as grateful to God when I hear of repentance in the young as in the aged, for souls, after all, are not affected in value by rank or age! Immortal spirits are all priceless, and not to be weighed in the scale with worlds.

I pray you, therefore, rejoice if the Spirit of God dwells in the lowly or in the great—in the young or in the old! He is the same Spirit! He makes each renewed person equally His temple—and each saved one is equally a jewel of Christ—dear to the heart of the Eternal Father, beloved by Him who redeemed all His people alike with His most precious blood!

Let us not, therefore, as a Church, sin against the child.

(Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 14, Sermon #840).

You can read it on the http://www.spurgeon.gems/ website

At Tuesday, September 09, 2008 2:50:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


The correct link for the foregoing Spurgeon quotation is:">


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