Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fred Malone: The Baptism of Disciples Alone

I finally finished Fred Malone's, The Baptism of Disciples Alone (although I still have the 100 pages of appendices). This book is a great follow up to Alan Conner's, Covenant Children Today: Physical or Spiritual? If you are desiring to learn the biblical and covenantal reasons why Credo-Baptists believe that baptism is reserved for believers/disciples only, then both of these books are a must for your library.

I am convinced that Malone's book should be read after Conner's book simply because I think most Baptists are unfamiliar with Covenant Theology. Conner's book truly is a first step into understanding the nature of the New Covenant and its relationship to Baptism.

Malone's book also deals with the covenantal framework of the bible as it relates to the sign and seal of the covenants. What makes Malone's book a second step is that Malone spends much time teaching some basic hermeneutic approaches to reading the bible. Malone emphasizes over and over again the "Regulative Principle of Worship" as a guide to making certain we follow Christ's commands and not man-made acts of worship. He distinguishes between "good and necessary inferences and consequences" as opposed to clear and explicit commands in the New Testament regarding Christ's instituted sacraments. With the ground work set, he makes his convincing arguments for the baptism of disciples alone.

Pastor Malone writes as a concerned pastor. He offers his own personal testimony as a credo- baptist convert to paedo-baptistism (infant baptistism position) back to credo-baptistism. He writes as one who desires to see consistency and reformation among Southern Baptists. In his chapter entitled, "What Difference Does It Make", I feel he is writing to me.
Third, the church as an assembly of baptized disciples demands that the worship and teaching ministry of the church on the Lord's Day be geared toward disciples, people of faith, not "seekers." The Great Commission requires that baptized disciples be taught "to do all that [Christ] commanded [His disciples]." Systematic expository teaching and preaching is a commandment of the Great Commission. This is what is missing in many of our Baptist churches today, though commanded by Jesus Christ. I believe that the expository preaching of the PCA has attracted many former Southern Baptists who are hungry for the Word of God. Oh, that Baptist churches would follow the Great Commission and teach the whole council of God to people! Because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ, systematic expository preaching will edify the saints and evangelize the sinner at the same time. Those Baptist churches that commit themselves to an expository, teaching ministry to the saints will see the fruit of obedience to Christ in the method by which He builds His church. The method of Christ is as clearly revealed in Scripture as the message.
I could not agree more. The method pastors use from the pulpit will be intuitively received as the the method to study the bible at home. If pastors consistently use topical sermons with unbiblical methods, then their congregation will soon follow. It is no wonder so many baptists have abandoned their historical roots in favor of seeker friendly methods instead of relying of Christ's Gospel and His instituted sacraments. If we truly desire to follow Christ and obey is commandments, then we must learn to be consistent in our interpretive methodology. If we do so, then we will learn the New Testament's teaching on the nature of salvation and the New Covenant sign of baptism. As he concludes this same chapter.
As the Old Testament children entered the Abrahamic Covenant through circumcision of the flesh, sealed individually by the righteousness of faith, so our New Covenant children enter the New Covenant by the individual circumcision of the heart, sealed by the Holy Spirit, revealed in their confession of faith, and signified by the sign of the baptism--the baptism of disciples alone.
Even though this book is primarily about the subjects of baptism, it has more practical applications than just baptism of disciples alone. Get it. Read it. Wrestle with it. Be blessed by it.

Pastor Malone has done a great service to those who desire to be faithful to the New Covenant that Christ has instituted.

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