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JimR

declining age of accountability

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An article found in the Gospel Coalition site reported that two hundred years ago no baptist church would baptize anyone younger than 18.  Ages have declined steadily and now kids as young as eight or ten are being baptized.  We have all heard stories about adults who said their childhood baptisms had more to do with peer pressure than actual conversion and they did not consider them to be valid.  Yet the practice continues.  Kids are not becoming emotionally mature at younger ages; just the opposite.  Many are childish while in college.  

When ten-year-olds are baptized in baptist churches, we must conclude that the difference between catholic churches and baptist churches is only  10 (10 minus zero is 10).  This is not much of a difference and while i understand that an exceptional child might be able to make a serious informed commitment at a young age, most cannot.  This is disturbing.  Presbyterians, like Baptists, do not believe baptism saves, but they go ahead and baptize babies anyway, then later they give the kids a confirmation class and have them standup in front of the church.  They get the process done backwards but they get it done.  Is this any worse than baptizing a ten year old?

Some Grace dispensationalists say that Paul stopped baptizing after he stopped going to the Jews and the gentile church does not need to do that anymore.  Honestly, I would be more comfortable in a church that does not baptize at all than in one that baptizes babies or small children.  

Sorry for the long post but I am curious as to what others will say about child baptisms and the declining age of baptism.  

 

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I prefer to remain cautious in regard to Baptism of the very young, and for all the reasons you stated. It goes even further than what you outlined though. I have first hand knowledge of children being supposedly saved and Baptized as young as five years old.

I would never be so adamant as to insist that a five year old was really saved, simply because with God all things are possible. But still I prefer to remain cautious in these situations.

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Personal experience: Saved at the age of 4; baptized by immersion at the age of 5 (time difference due to a fear of drowning); NEVER any doubts or questions concerning salvation.

Biblical truth: Matthew 18:5-6 - "And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

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Scott,

I am not questioning any individual case, but instead the declining average age.  If a person is not old enough to get married, serve in the military or vote, they might not be old enough to choose Christ.

Baptist church distinctives call for a membership limited to believers. Also, those members vote on church issues. Maybe I do not understand how this stuff works.

No doubt i am stepping on some toes with this issue.  However, i am not trying to offend, just to reconcile the declining average age of baptism with what I thought was distinctive about baptists.

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24 minutes ago, JimR said:

Scott,

I am not questioning any individual case, but instead the declining average age.  If a person is not old enough to get married, serve in the military or vote, they might not be old enough to choose Christ.

Baptist church distinctives call for a membership limited to believers. Also, those members vote on church issues. Maybe I do not understand how this stuff works.

No doubt i am stepping on some toes with this issue.  However, i am not trying to offend, just to reconcile the declining average age of baptism with what I thought was distinctive about baptists.

Brother JimR,

I do not feel that my toes are "stepped on," nor do I feel offended.  I only care with deep conviction and commitment that Biblical authority be that which is used to determine such spiritual and church issues.  Thus I would contend that the age for marriage or military service is not at all relevant to the case in question.  God's Word indicates (as you referenced) that Biblical baptism is for genuine believers.  Thus if a younger child can genuinely believe on Christ for eternal salvation, then that younger child is qualified for believer's baptism.  Even so, the real question is whether younger children can genuinely believe on Christ for eternal salvation.  From my perspective the very best person to answer that question is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as per the passage that I quoted from Matthew 18:5-6.  Biblical truth is found in the Bible alone. 

Edited by Pastor Scott Markle

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3 hours ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Personal experience: Saved at the age of 4; baptized by immersion at the age of 5 (time difference due to a fear of drowning); NEVER any doubts or questions concerning salvation.

Biblical truth: Matthew 18:5-6 - "And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Amen. I was saved at a similar age as well but not baptized until 16. At five I had no doubt that Jesus Died for me and would take me to Heaven if I trusted in him. I would even witness to others about What Christ did and their need to trust in Christ. It was only the doubt of others that could not believe such a young child could have genuine faith that caused me to struggle and doubt my salvation.

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A history of anti-pedobaptism : from the rise of pepdobaptism to A.D. 1609 /

Title: A history of anti-pedobaptism : from the rise of pepdobaptism to A.D. 1609 /
Author: Newman, Albert Henry, 1852-1933
Note: Philadelphia : American Baptist Publication Society, 1902, c1896
   
Link: page images at HathiTrust

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupid?key=ha100109721

A free version of This baptist history book is available on google play.  It seemed pretty interesting to me when i read it several years ago.  From the title I suspect the author, if he was alive today, might say that if the person baptized is still seeing a pediatrician, its pedobaptism.

Edited by JimR
Added where to find source

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On 12/7/2019 at 10:42 AM, JimR said:

  Honestly, I would be more comfortable in a church that does not baptize at all than in one that baptizes babies or small children.    

This is a bit of a straw man... I doubt any here would argue in favour of baptizing babies. The definition of children too young to be baptized can (and is being) debated. IMO, both of the choices mentioned here are equally inappropriate. A church that does not baptize is just as doctrinally in error as one that baptizes babies. 

On 12/7/2019 at 10:42 AM, JimR said:

When ten-year-olds are baptized in baptist churches, we must conclude that the difference between catholic churches and baptist churches is only  10 (10 minus zero is 10).  

10... what? The difference between catholic and baptist churches is good doctrine vs bad. 5, 10, or 20 are just numbers that mean nothing.

 

I would probably hold toward baptizing children cautiously, and not too young (whatever that means). But let's base this decision on true facts/doctrine and not poor arguments.

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16 hours ago, JimR said:

Scott,

do you baptize solely on profession of faith?  Or do you insist on some education first and evidence of a changed life?

Brother JimR,

What does God's Holy Word instruct me to do in this matter?

Do the New Testament Scriptures indicate that I should baptize "on profession of faith," or that I should "insist on some education first"?  Consider the order that is revealed in the instruction of Matthew 28:19-20 -- "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Do the New Testament Scriptures indicate that I should baptize "on profession of faith," or that I should "insist on . . . evidence of a changed life"?  (Note: I would contend that the "evidience of a changed life" is actually the evidence of spiritual growth unto spiritual maturity, NOT the evidence of the new birth.  I would further contend that the evidence of the new birth is simply an evidence that spiritual life exists, NOT an evidence of being transformed in character.  A seed does not provide its first evidence of life when it bears fruit.  Rather, a seed provides its first evidence of life when it germinates and thus begins to grow its first baby root.)

My authority of belief and behavior is GOD'S HOLY WORD.  What it teaches is what I SHOULD do.  What others teach that cannot be found taught in God's Word is simply the doctrines of men according to the authority of men.

1 hour ago, JimR said:

A history of anti-pedobaptism : from the rise of pepdobaptism to A.D. 1609 /

Title: A history of anti-pedobaptism : from the rise of pepdobaptism to A.D. 1609 /
Author: Newman, Albert Henry, 1852-1933
Note: Philadelphia : American Baptist Publication Society, 1902, c1896
   
Link: page images at HathiTrust

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupid?key=ha100109721

A free version of This baptist history book is available on google play.  It seemed pretty interesting to me when i read it several years ago.  From the title I suspect the author, if he was alive today, might say that if the person baptized is still seeing a pediatrician, its pedobaptism.

As per my comment above that God's Holy Word is my authority for belief and behavior, I do not find this "evidence" for you position to be relevant.  WHAT DOES GOD'S WORD TEACH?

Yet your postings have raised a question in my mind.  Throughout this thread discussion, thus far you have not referenced a single passage of Scripture.  This moves me to wonder - What is your chosen authority for belief and behavior?  Is it the teaching of God's Word, or is it the traditions of Baptists?  From your postings in this thread discussion thus far (noting that I have not examined any other postings in any other thread discussion to which you have contributed), it appears to me that your chosen authority is the traditions of Baptists.  At least from my perspective that appears to be the authority unto which you have continued to make your appeal.

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56 minutes ago, Salyan said:

This is a bit of a straw man... I doubt any here would argue in favour of baptizing babies. The definition of children too young to be baptized can (and is being) debated. IMO, both of the choices mentioned here are equally inappropriate. A church that does not baptize is just as doctrinally in error as one that baptizes babies. 

Sister Salyan, I do NOT stand in disagreement with your point.  However, I did wish to spring off your thoughts with an important distinction in the matter of this "debate." 

According to God's Word the issue is NOT whether a church does or does not baptize babies because of their age.  Rather, according God's Word the issue IS whether a church does or does not baptize UNBELIEVERS regardless of their age.  In accord with the teaching of God's Word, I will NOT baptize anyone from babyhood unto "ancient-hood" that does not have a testimony of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior.  If a baby cannot or has not believed in Christ, then that baby should not be baptized.  If a young child cannot or has not believed in Christ, then that young child should not be baptized.  If an older child cannot or has not believed in Christ, then that older child should not be baptized.  If a teen child cannot or has not believed in Christ, then that teen child should not be baptized.  If a young adult cannot or has not believed in Christ, then that young adult should not be baptized.  If an older adult cannot or has not believed in Christ, then that older adult should not be baptized.  If an "ancient" (Bible word) adult cannot or has not believed in Christ, then that "ancient" adult should not be baptized.  However, if ANY INDIVIDUAL has placed genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior, then that individual IS Biblically qualified to be baptized.

Thus we return to the question - At what age can a child come unto genuine faith/belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior?  This is the doctrinal question that needs to be answer FROM THE TEACHING OF GOD'S WORD.

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Sorry, Scott.  I gave you the wrong impression.  I agree with you that evidence of a changed life is not necessary for baptism.  I only asked you about it because this week i listened to an IFB sermon that said that.  

I did not say exceptional kids who have true faith should not be baptized.  I just noted the average age is declining and pointed out that some who were baptized young later decided it was not valid because they did not understand and were going along due to peer pressure. This makes me worry that the trend is not good.  The difference between baptists and others is shrinking.

Romans 10:9 works for me:  that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Philip baptized the Ethiopian straightaway after he believed.  Baptism is an outward sign of an inward change.  

I hope those scriptures are sufficient foundation for my position.

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1 minute ago, JimR said:

Sorry, Scott.  I gave you the wrong impression.  I agree with you that evidence of a changed life is not necessary for baptism.  I only asked you about it because this week i listened to an IFB sermon that said that.  

I did not say exceptional kids who have true faith should not be baptized.  I just noted the average age is declining and pointed out that some who were baptized young later decided it was not valid because they did not understand and were going along due to peer pressure. This makes me worry that the trend is not good.  The difference between baptists and others is shrinking.

Romans 10:9 works for me:  that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Philip baptized the Ethiopian straightaway after he believed.  Baptism is an outward sign of an inward change.  

I hope those scriptures are sufficient foundation for my position.

Ahhh, yes.  That does help to clear things between us a little more.  

So then, if your concern is primarily that of a trend, which appears to be revealed as faulty when the children get older, I would contend that the problem is NOT at what age we baptize, BUT is how poorly we are handling the matter of gospel faith with our children.

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Scott, i am glad i am not the person who is responsible for discerning when someone is truly ready for baptism.  

Regarding average age, i realize many of those baptized when they are older still drift away, concluding their conversion was just a delusion.

Maybe everyone who expresses faith and the desire to be baptized should be dunked asap.  Jesus will sort them out at the appropriate time.  If he says he never knew them, then that’s that.

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17 minutes ago, JimR said:

Scott, i am glad i am not the person who is responsible for discerning when someone is truly ready for baptism.  

Indeed, I understand that sentiment.  Yet as a pastor I AM responsible - in two different directions:

1.  On the one hand, I am responsible to obey God's command to guide new born babes in Christ unto the obedience of baptism and to be "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

2.  On the other hand, I am responsible to guard the flock from deceivers and from corruption.  (Certainly not an easy task, yet possible under the guiding and empowering influence of the indwelling of Holy Spirit of God.

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Some weeds end up mixed with the wheat.  That cannot be helped.

If i was going to baptize/dip/immerse someone, i would want them to get down on their knees in front of tub filled with water,  Their heads would be submerged three times, once in each name.  When that was over, they would definitely feel like they had died and rose again.  

Maybe folks who were less sincere would not be willing to submit to a triple dunk.

My German Dunker forbears did it three times forward,

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5 hours ago, JimR said:

Some weeds end up mixed with the wheat.  That cannot be helped.

If i was going to baptize/dip/immerse someone, i would want them to get down on their knees in front of tub filled with water,  Their heads would be submerged three times, once in each name.  When that was over, they would definitely feel like they had died and rose again.  

Maybe folks who were less sincere would not be willing to submit to a triple dunk.

My German Dunker forbears did it three times forward,

How many times did Jesus die and rise again? If he died once, then we should be baptized once. To add anything more destroys the picture.  
Also, I'd really like to see your cemetery if you only bury people's heads... :15_1_63:  :laugh:

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10 hours ago, JimR said:

Some weeds end up mixed with the wheat.  That cannot be helped.

If i was going to baptize/dip/immerse someone, i would want them to get down on their knees in front of tub filled with water,  Their heads would be submerged three times, once in each name.  When that was over, they would definitely feel like they had died and rose again.  

Maybe folks who were less sincere would not be willing to submit to a triple dunk.

My German Dunker forbears did it three times forward,

There is ABSOLUTELY no biblical instruction nor example of this.

How does this show the death of Christ?

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DaveW,

You wrote: 

There is ABSOLUTELY no biblical instruction nor example of this.

How does this show the death of Christ?

 

On the other hand, the procedure of laying people backwards one time into water is tradition.  The NT does not specifically state how it should be done.  I think it symbolizes the death of Christ if you have to hold your breath to avoid getting a lung-full.  The NT says we should baptize/dip/immerse in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Acts 10:48 says "in the name of the Lord").  The specifics of the procedure are based on tradition and might be influenced by the situation.  When you are baptizing 3000 people and a river is nearby, then go for it.

Notice in Acts 10:47-48 Cornelius et al were baptized with water in his house.  Full-body immersion backwards in a large container is not specified.

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

 

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Forwards or backwards doesn't matter... it's the immersion that matters. And immersion by definition means full coverage. Fully buried, fully raised. Not just the head. I think that's what Dave's getting at. I know some a church that uses a stock tank too small for a full backwards layout... I'm sure they use some kind of crouching in the process, but they still get fully wet! 😉

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Salyan, i understand. The consensus is clear and the reasons for it.

 But somehow I doubt Cornelius and the folks in other house churches had big water tanks or even a bathtub big enough to lie down in.  Something is going to stick up out of the water, which violates your full-immersion requirement.

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2 hours ago, JimR said:

Salyan, i understand. The consensus is clear and the reasons for it.

 But somehow I doubt Cornelius and the folks in other house churches had big water tanks or even a bathtub big enough to lie down in.  Something is going to stick up out of the water, which violates your full-immersion requirement.

Just to be clear, my 'full immersion requirement' is not based on consensus. It's based on Scriptural example and the Biblical explanation for the picture that baptism is to provide. Are you able to provide a Scriptural reason to back up your idea of not-fully-dunking?

I don't see why they would have needed tanks in their houses...  considering the early examples for baptism (John the Baptist, Philip) utilized external bodies of water, I would have expected the early churches to continue with the same example.  Hey, i know a church that still uses a lake for baptism, since they haven't got a tank in their rented building. They're located in the Canadian mountains, so it's a tad cold (even in July), but it's very Biblical! 😄

That being said, it was not uncommon in the era for villas to have their own private baths (which included several large water basins), so it wouldn't have been out of the question for a wealthy Roman (like Cornelius) to actually have his own thermae.

This isn't directly related, but it's a picture I love. This shows the baptismal font in a Catholic building in Rome, San Giovanni in Laterno, commissioned by Constantine. The current font is on a platform in what was original the baptismal pool... back when the building was originally built and they still practiced baptism by immersion! 😄  (Not intending to open a debate on catholic doctrine and what's wrong with it/how it's different/Constantine. I just love how this picture shows so clearly that they used to immerse - their little bitty font (okay, it's kind of a big font) is literally located in a swimming pool!)

Image result for san giovanni in laterano baptismal font"

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Romans 6

4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

 5  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Likeness of his death.......

Don't ya hate it when the Bible disagrees with you?

 

Edited by DaveW

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I didn't post in this thread until now because I was not interested in the straw man proposition at the very start.

I finally stuck my nose in when the OP proposed a clearly unbiblical form of baptism, but now that my nose is "in here" I am going to waggle it around a little.

The original post is so full of false premise that it simply isn't funny.

 

On 12/8/2019 at 1:42 AM, JimR said:

An article found in the Gospel Coalition site reported that two hundred years ago no baptist church would baptize anyone younger than 18.  Ages have declined steadily and now kids as young as eight or ten are being baptized.  We have all heard stories about adults who said their childhood baptisms had more to do with peer pressure than actual conversion and they did not consider them to be valid.  Yet the practice continues.  Kids are not becoming emotionally mature at younger ages; just the opposite.  Many are childish while in college.  

When ten-year-olds are baptized in baptist churches, we must conclude that the difference between catholic churches and baptist churches is only  10 (10 minus zero is 10).  This is not much of a difference and while i understand that an exceptional child might be able to make a serious informed commitment at a young age, most cannot.  This is disturbing.  Presbyterians, like Baptists, do not believe baptism saves, but they go ahead and baptize babies anyway, then later they give the kids a confirmation class and have them standup in front of the church.  They get the process done backwards but they get it done.  Is this any worse than baptizing a ten year old?

Some Grace dispensationalists say that Paul stopped baptizing after he stopped going to the Jews and the gentile church does not need to do that anymore.  Honestly, I would be more comfortable in a church that does not baptize at all than in one that baptizes babies or small children.  

Sorry for the long post but I am curious as to what others will say about child baptisms and the declining age of baptism.  

 

Who cares what the Gospel Coalition says (whoever they are...)?

I know from my own experience that when I was saved 30+ years ago, and then a few month later baptised, people were already having the discussions about children with false professions "getting saved" again as an adult. I will note to you that the discussion was NEVER about those people getting baptised at a young age, but about whether or not they got saved at that age. I have spoken to many people older than I who made a profession of faith for salvation at ages as young as three, but mostly around the ages of 6-10, who then doubted their salvation and later "tried again". That means that this "trend" you propose has been stable for at least the last 50 or more years.

On 12/8/2019 at 1:42 AM, JimR said:

We have all heard stories about adults who said their childhood baptisms had more to do with peer pressure than actual conversion and they did not consider them to be valid. 

I gotta say that I have never heard this in an IFB church - about salvation yes, but not about baptisms, and the way you word this appears to be suggesting that baptism is a part of salvation...…. Maybe that is simply sloppy wording on your part, but that is the way it looks......

 

On 12/8/2019 at 1:42 AM, JimR said:

Kids are not becoming emotionally mature at younger ages; just the opposite.  Many are childish while in college.  

So what? What has this to do with "emotional maturity"? It is about understanding your position as a sinner, and understanding the offer of salvation through Christ.  It is not about emotional anything......

On 12/8/2019 at 1:42 AM, JimR said:

When ten-year-olds are baptized in baptist churches, we must conclude that the difference between catholic churches and baptist churches is only  10 (10 minus zero is 10). 

This is utter stupidity. The difference between baptism in a catholic church and baptism in an Independent Baptist Church is nothing to do with age, and everything to do with doctrine. Catholics baptise as a part of their salvation ritual process, IFB baptise as a testimony of what the Lord HAS ALREADY done in a saved person's life. You either have ZERO understanding of what baptism means or...…. no that's it...….

And your proposal means that the position of an IFB church would have to change with every baptism. A couple of baptisms ago, our church baptised two 13 year old, a 14 year old, and a 73 year old. Do we average them to find out how close to a Catholic church we are? So we were 28.25 years away from being a Catholic church.

But the last baptism was a mother of about 38. So now we are 38 years away from being Catholic? See, it is a stupid proposition.....

 

On 12/8/2019 at 1:42 AM, JimR said:

Presbyterians, like Baptists, do not believe baptism saves, but they go ahead and baptize babies anyway, then later they give the kids a confirmation class and have them standup in front of the church.  They get the process done backwards but they get it done.  Is this any worse than baptizing a ten year old?

Who cares what Presbyterians do? But here again you display a lack of understanding about baptism. It takes very little Bible research to see that the order is set out in a plain way - salvation then baptism. Find one instance of a man in the Bible being baptised before being saved..... (I assume Judas was baptised but he never was saved......so he doesn't count.)

And yes it is worse than baptising a ten year old, because in every IFB church that I have ever been associated with, the ten year old would only be baptised AFTER he has professed Christ as his Saviour. No baby who cannot even speak the words, is of sufficient understanding to be able to be saved.

 

So in short, your proposition of a trend towards baptising younger is not true over the last 50+ years anyway, so your beginning premise is wrong.

Your attempt to associate baptism with "emotional maturity" is simply unbiblical.

You appear to be associating baptism to salvation in an essential way, which is unbiblical.

Your attempt to make the difference between Catholicism and Baptist churches into one of "age of baptism" is ridiculous, unbiblical, and quite frankly, stupid. 

And your attempt to minimise the "process" difference between the Presbyterians and the IFB indicates that your purpose here is not just for a good discussion, but to gently spread dissent and false teaching.

Edited by DaveW
typos, and a sentence or two.

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