16. Provisions Concerning Baptism

  1. Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), the members and churches of the Presbytery are committed to the formal communion of Christians who hold differing convictions concerning time and mode of baptism. The members and churches of the Presbytery agree to the following:
    1. Both paedo-baptists and credo-baptists recognize the Westminster Standards (Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms) as an excellent summary of the system of doctrine taught in Scripture and believe submission to a single standard best promotes the peaceable government and unity of the Presbytery.
    2. Evangel Presbytery will permit no exceptions to the Westminster Standards’ teaching that all who profess faith in Jesus Christ along with their children are members of the visible Church of Christ and all members of that visible Church are under obligation to love, honor and obey their God and proper subjects of the discipline of the Church.
    3. Exceptions to the Westminster Standards concerning baptism will be granted in the following areas, and such exceptions will be deemed “not out of accord with any fundamental of our system of doctrine because the difference is neither hostile to the system nor strikes at the vitals of religion” (BCO 23.4.f):
      1. Time of baptism: Many God-fearing men and women are of the conviction that though children of believers are members of the visible Church, rightly treated as such by the church, the application of baptism is so tied to the credible profession of faith by the individual that it is properly applied subsequent to that profession.
      2. Mode of baptism: Many God-fearing men and women are also of the conviction that baptism is rightly administered by immersion only rather than by pouring or sprinkling.
  2. Exceptions to the Westminster Standards’ teaching on baptism may be granted both to churches and to pastors ordained by presbytery. Churches granted an exception may ordain officers whose beliefs are in accord with their exception.
  3. A church may declare an exception to the Westminster Standards to permit both credobaptist and paedo-baptist views and practice by officers and pastors. Ordinarily, a church’s bylaws will indicate whether officers must be exclusively credo-baptist, exclusively paedobaptist, or may be comprised of both.
  4. Exceptions granted to the Westminster Standards’ teaching on baptism are effective in perpetuity and may only be revoked by a process effecting a change to Evangel Presbytery’s constitution.
  5. Churches granted an exception to the Westminster Standards’ teaching on baptism may reverse that exception through a duly-effected process of bylaw change. Churches which enter Evangel Presbytery without claiming an exception in the area of baptism may claim an exception after a duly-effected bylaw change and a majority vote approving the new exception by the presbytery.
  6. Charity will be shown to those holding differing views on the time and mode of baptism in the following ways:
    1. Churches holding exceptions on baptism will honor the baptisms of infants and children who were baptized in accordance with the Westminster Standards.
    2. Churches embracing the Westminster Standards’ on time and mode of baptism will:
      1. deny that the “great sin” of “contemning or neglecting” baptism spoken of in WCF 28.5 refers to a principled credo-baptist’s delay of baptism until after a credible profession of faith
      2. accept as non-communicant members dedicated and non-dedicated children of members holding credobaptist views
  7. The children of communing believers are non-communing members, though only in the strict and distinct sense as set forth in BCO 7. A church’s membership roll shall include the children of communing members in a separate list, identifying them as non-communing members. However, such membership shall not be understood to be contrary to the convictions of the church and parents concerning infant baptism. This unity is possible because the church and parents understand the child is a proper recipient of the church’s care, love, discipline, and training, with a view to his embracing Christ and thus possessing personally all the benefits of the covenant.

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