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Why I Am Not a Baptist

Baptist theology’s hyper-individualism is modernity in action.

(Image: Vlah Dumitru | Unsplash.com)

I am persuaded God has a sense of humor. When I was once a Presbyterian, Calvinist seminarian, I tried, without result, to persuade my then-Reformed Baptist girlfriend that paedobaptism—the practice of baptizing infants and children—had biblical warrant. A few years later, after I had converted to Catholicism and began working as an editor of the ecumenical website “Called to Communion”, I found myself in frequent and often fruitless debates with Reformed Baptists. I don’t think I persuaded a single one of them.

I was reminded of those experiences —some with more personal relevance than others—when reading the recent First Things article “Why I Am a Baptist” by R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Professor of Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler, a prolific Baptist theologian and writer, recounts an anecdote in his article’s lede about an exasperated Desiderius Erasmus, the Catholic humanist and foe of Martin Luther, who grew increasingly frustrated with the German monk and Reformer’s proclivity for extremes, hyperboles, and emotive assertions.

In Mohler’s account of the historical development of Baptists in the post-Reformation era, these truest-of-true Protestants sought to affirm the “central doctrines of the Christian faith,” and “unite and confirm all true Protestants in the fundamental articles of the Christian religion,” as the 1679 Baptist “Orthodox Creed” explains. Of course, many of these “central doctrines” and “fundamental articles”—sola fide, sola scriptura, for example—are rejected by substantial numbers of self-described Christians, including, notably, Catholics and Orthodox. This provokes a question of paramount importance: who decides what doctrines are “essential” and “central”?

The answer in the Baptist theological paradigm is the individual, Bible-reading Christian, guided by the Holy Spirit. This presents its own immediate problem, since determining who even counts as a legitimate Christian is a question only an individual person who claims to be a Christian could answer, and is thus a form of limitless, circular question-begging. Who are true Christians? “People like me who believe the central truths of biblical Christianity, as taught by the Bible.” But what about other people who read the Bible and come to different conclusions than you about its central truths? “Well, they must not be Christian.”

Baptist theology is thus essentially individualistic. Each individual person is the ultimate arbiter for interpreting the Bible’s meaning. This framework can only have a semblance of coherency if one also believes in the peculiar Protestant doctrine of perspicuity, the tenet that the Bible is so clear regarding the “essentials” of Christianity that any individual Christian can identify them. This also is question-begging, since other dominant Christian traditions (Catholicism, Orthodoxy) don’t hold to perspicuity, but recognize the necessity of an authoritative biblical interpreter.

The individualism and presumption of perspicuity is also visible in the Baptists’ most famous (and self-identifying) doctrine—credobaptism, otherwise known as “Believer’s Baptism.” Only those who have made a public profession of faith in Christ should be baptized. “Reading the New Testament,” says Mohler, Baptists “concluded that infant baptism was no real baptism and that baptism, like the Lord’s Supper, was not a sacrament but an ordinance.” Moreover, Bible verses including Colossians 2:12 and Romans 6:4 “clearly indicated the full immersion of the new believer in water.” So much for the consensus on the baptism of infants among the Church Fathers (e.g. St. Irenaeus of Lyon, St. Hippolytus of Rome, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, etc.), or the curious lack of debate regarding baptizing infants in the early Church (one would think, if many early Christians disagreed with paedobaptism, there would be record of such disagreement).

“To the Baptists,” explains Mohler, “the practice of believers’ baptism was shorthand for their entire system of doctrine and ecclesial practice.” Mohler’s forthright acknowledgment of the centrality of credobaptism is further proof of its unparalleled level of individualism. This is because Baptist theology depends on a subjective, unauthoritative interpretation of a set of verses with little interpretive pedigree prior to the Reformation. It is further manifested in Baptists’ refusal to recognize the baptism of individual Christians baptized as infants. Of course, this is internally coherent—if paedobaptism is illegitimate, “rebaptism” would be necessary. Yet this also means most other Christians, including Protestants who share significant theological overlap with Baptists (e.g. Anglicans, Presbyterians), lack perhaps the most essential external markers of the Christian faith, per the Church fathers and historical ecclesial traditions.

This radical individualism is also visible in Baptist theology’s prioritization of the singular, definitive moment of personal conversion. Individuals are born in original sin and are thus inherently directed towards sin (so far, so good), but that spiritual renovation occurs not through baptism, but through a decision made by individuals possessing sufficient moral agency. “The definition of Christ’s church as wholly regenerate is perhaps the most radical of all Baptist doctrines,” observes Mohler. Indeed. Here again we see the question-begging premises of perspicuity: “the concept of a regenerate church… was evident to the early Baptists as they read the Bible.” And, one might add, as they neglected the teachings of pre-Reformation Christianity.

The early English Baptist Thomas Helwys—approvingly cited by Mohler—is paradigmatic of this hyper-individualism: “man’s religion to God is between God and themselves.” There is some inconsistency in this, given that Baptist parents catechize their unbaptized children in the peculiarities of Baptist doctrine. That aside, Mohler himself affirms an extreme form of religious liberty: “Helwys had the clearness of mind to discern that as a matter of justice the ruling authorities must grant liberty of conscience no matter what faith people held.” No matter what? What if said faith is destructive to the human person, contrary to the most fundamental of natural laws, or inimical to the preservation or flourishing of the polis? Baptist theology thus elevates the conscience of the individual above the very survival of the community.

Mohler laments the “acids of modernity,” “increasingly aggressive secularism,” and “secular liberation.” Yet it is precisely the philosophical premises underlying Baptist theology that have contributed to these broader socio-cultural trends. Baptist theology’s hyper-individualism is modernity in action. It only takes a little skepticism and creativity for individual persons who see the irrationality of Protestantism to dispense with the Bible altogether and try to create a new system of ontology, epistemology, and ethics totally severed from the remnants of their own philosophical inheritance, as did Descartes, Kant, Hume, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Sartre.

Mohler defends those, who, like himself “hold to traditional forms of Christianity, revealed religion, and religious authority.” Yet this is an ersatz, ad hoc tradition, because Baptist doctrine encourages its adherents to embrace only those traditions that they individually determine to be in conformity with Scripture, while rejecting the broad, early Church consensus on many matters. These include not only infant baptism but also Eucharistic rites, Lenten fasts, rules for the election and consecration of bishops, the sign of the cross, and prayers for the dead. Baptists are thus ecclesial deists, believing God began the church and then left it to its own devices. Again, Baptists possess an ersatz, ad hoc authority, rejecting the apostolic episcopacy in favor of individual persons who form communities with like-minded interpretations of the Bible.

I often employ these arguments with Baptist interlocutors. The most common response is to cite Bible verses at me, as if the passages are themselves capable of making the argument, even if I interpret those verses differently than the Baptist. The Baptist approach is emblematic of a theological system predicated on that pesky doctrine of perspicuity—the Bible verses are clear; their theological adversaries just haven’t interpreted them properly. Indeed, Mohler’s article presumes Scripture is clear in reference to the nature of Christian conversion, the form and application of baptism, ecclesiology, sacramentology (again, there are no sacraments, Baptists believe in “ordinances”), the content of the gospel, and church discipline (a new mark of the church, according to Baptist teaching). And if the non-Baptist doesn’t rightly see those clear, pro-Baptist doctrines in the Bible, well, that must necessarily reflect some deficiency on his part!

At its heart, Baptist theology is defined by a hyper-individualistic, anti-traditionalist, and ecclesial deist paradigm that has far more in common with Enlightenment, modernist thinking than it does with historical, orthodox Christianity and its familial, traditionalist, and episcopal qualities. For the Baptist, the answers to the questions of who decides the contents of the Bible, the Bible’s meaning, and its relationship to a systemized Christian theology are found not in an apostolically-derived ecclesial authority, but in the atomized, self-assured Christian. Every time Mohler refers to “New Testament principles,” what he really means is his personal principles of New Testament interpretation, masquerading as objective and orthodox. He ends by declaring his intention to die “faithfully Baptist.” For his and all Baptists’ sake, I plead that he reconsider.


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About Casey Chalk 10 Articles
Casey Chalk is a contributor for Crisis Magazine, The American Conservative, and New Oxford Review. He has degrees in history and teaching from the University of Virginia and a master's in theology from Christendom College.

25 Comments

  1. I’m not a Baptist though I have some Baptist ancestors . And I’m not about to become a Baptist but I have to admit they have better radio programming where we live. I really enjoy listening to the local Christian radio station. Very occasionally a speaker veers off into the whore of Babylon conspiracy nonsense but I generally hear good things about Catholics.
    And as far as “diversity ” goes, they feature more far more black radio hosts than the Catholic station. And the black hosts do a great job presenting their views.
    Catholics need to sharpen their preaching skills. We have important things to say but can lose the audience’s interest.

    • Mrscracker thought I would provide this comment related to Catholic Radio. While Catholic radio was slow to get into the game, it have improved substantialy in recent years. In Chicago we have excellent Catholic content programming provided by Relevant Radio. The radio hosts are excellent. My only complaint is that they used to include Catholic Answers hosts that were always excellent, but for now are not part of their program lineup. Would add that Catholics need to support the stations or organizations (including CWR) providing Catholic content and programming. I have found it vital in learning and understanding so many aspects of my faith and ultimately growing in my faith. Also I think it is a great way to bring fallen away Catholic back to the faith and convert non Catholics.

      • Grand Rapids Mike ,
        Absolutely. There’s no reason Catholic radio can’t be a source of encouragement & evangelization in the same way Protestant radio is. Funding could be a part of the issue I imagine.
        Just to mention, when I do tune in Catholic radio I sometimes hear more arguing than encouraging. That’s not a good evangelization tool.

  2. Interesting and clearly written article. Appreciate your defining some terms like paedobaptism and others that were totally new to me. Think the phrase “ecclesial deist” is a keeper. I would like to try that out on my Lutheran Brother in Law as his church proceeds on a path of redefining itself. Where I grew up in Grand Rapids, could not understand why there were First Reformed, Second Reformed etc. Churches. The idea of buying into everyone being there own ecclesial deist is an easy fit into man’s pride and explains a lot.

    So glad I was born into the Catholic Faith and thank God and ask Him every day in my morning prayers to guide and help me avoid the traps, pride, etc that could easily draw me away from Home

  3. I believe in Heaven, there is a mansion where everyone who likes to argue over religion are housed. Our Lord in His Mercy and also in His sense of humor, puts people in this mansion who love to argue religion.

    For myself, I have witnessed Baptists, Episcopalians, Church of Christ, etc. doing quite a bit of what we Catholics would call the “Corporal works of Mercy”. In fact, I have witnessed them to be more active on an individual basis than Catholics.

    So, let’s get our own house clean first, before we invite our fellow Christians in. We have a lot of work to do. At the same time, let’s hold back any criticism of them. Believe me, in the times that we are in, we need to all hang together, or we will definitely hang separately on gallows outside our own churches.

    • “For myself, I have witnessed Baptists, Episcopalians, Church of Christ, etc. doing quite a bit of what we Catholics would call the “Corporal works of Mercy”. In fact, I have witnessed them to be more active on an individual basis than Catholics.”

      *******

      Me, too. My Mennonite friends especially. It’s a part of their culture. It should be a part of ours also.

  4. As a former convert from Baptism this article is 100% spot on for the individual being the sole interpreter of the faith. One reason why anyone can leave their church and go start another…

    However, one thing we SHOULD learn from the Baptists is their love of scripture. One thing sadly many Catholics are vastly ignorant of. I believe someone once said ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ…

  5. I read Mohler’s article in First Things, and this is a good theological response. As a former evangelical Anglican with some familiarity with Baptist Christianity, I wouldn’t argue with much in this piece except the idea that Baptist principles are modernity in action. Please. I understand what the writer means, but that isn’t fair to Baptists.
    The serious Baptists–often the Southern Baptists–are the most maligned Christians in our culture–maligned by those who despise Christianity and Christ. Certainly Baptists are not perfect and I agree with Mr. Chalk that their theology has serious problems. The belief–very common among Southern Baptists as far as I can tell–that once a person prays to ‘accept the Lord’ they are saved–no matter what–that is, no matter what sins they may later on commit, is a serious error. This belief is based on St. Paul’s teaching in Romans 10:9 ‘because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Of course, Paul says many other things about salvation in his letters, including stern warnings that certain actions would exclude one from the Kingdom of God. So Chalk is right to point out serious problems with Baptist theology and the need for an authoritative magisterium.

    On the other hand, for the most part I have known Baptists to be Jesus-loving, God-fearing, Bible-reading disciples of Jesus and serious pray-ers who care very deeply about bringing the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to everyone. In terms of zeal for the Gospel, they often put us Catholics to shame. They are quite often good brothers and sisters. I will not likely persuade many of them to become Catholic. They won’t persuade me to become Baptist. But as friends in the Lord Jesus, we can help each other spread God’s love in this world that seems to be falling to pieces before our eyes.

  6. I am an evangelical Christian and have been part of Baptist churches across the years. As such I am a firm believer in the concept of the believers’ church and baptism by full immersion as an outward testimony of an inward reality. I further acknowledge that others (i.e. Anglican/Episcopalian and Calvinist Reformed, among others) see the matter differently.

    My question is, where exactly did Roman Catholic doctrine on baptism leave Edgardo Mortara?

    • Mr. Tyrrell,

      Thanks for your comment. In answer to your question, Mortara became a Catholic priest, and a quite happy and successful one, at that. “As a preacher he was in great demand,” notes American historian David Kertzer. How your question has anything to do with my critique of Baptist Christianity, I’m unsure. Do you have any comments on my article?

  7. Within the larger revisiting of Pauline theology in Protestant circles (N.T.Wright, et.al.), Baptist theologians such as Douglas Harink and Steven Harmon have challenged the radical individualism present in the Baptist tradition as a mistaken interpretation.
    Of equal importance, Deification (“Christification”) is being proposed by those theologians and others for acceptance on the part of conservative Baptists.

  8. Growing up Catholic in the Bible Belt, sometimes, like he noted,I wonder about the efficacy of apologetics with Baptists….my sometime-Baptist sister in law and I have had discussions and we keep getting into those wonderful circular arguments…it can seem much more effective to pray and suffer for them as St. Faustina would say…

  9. This is spot on, especially that last paragraph. A fine rebuttal. One Evangelical Protestant belief I cannot fathom is eternal security. I can see the dispute over child versus adult baptism, but claiming that once you have faith you can never be damned is downright mind boggling. And I thought they were Bible Christians.

  10. Today there are over 30,00 different Christian Churches in the world each based on individualistic interpretation of the Bible since Luther’s 1400S teaching of sola scriptura and labeling the Catholic Church as the whore of Babylon. The question is who has the sole authority to provide a correct interpretation of the bible? The answer is those who originally approved and canonize the number of books that made up the bible and who approve and defended the correct interpretation of what the bible was teaching and that is the Catholic Church. Protectants would not have a bible if it had not been developed by the Catholic Church based on the apostolic doctrines and teachings handed down by the Apostles to the early Christ disciples and Christian Churches established in different parts of the world. To ignore this history is to ignore the origin of Christian belief based on the formation of the bible.

    • Jose,
      You have to admit – if you studied the 16th century Reformation at all – that the corruption of the Church had reached unprecedented proportions back then. Priests were selling indulgences from Purgatory to build St. Peter’s Basilica. The cup of the New Covenant in our Lord’s blood was being withheld from the laity … Well, I guess I could go on listing 95 items of corruption from back then. The Reformation started with a 95 Thesis.
      And now, in the 21st century, because of the Reformation, we have more Biblical literacy throughout the world then could have ever been imagined – and because of this biblical literacy Christians are no longer duped by the potential corruption of authority from within the Church – because they know their Bibles. There probably aren’t to many Roman Catholics sending indulgent money to their neighborhood priests to reduce the number of years they will spend in Purgatory nowadays – again, because they know their Bibles (translated into their common language), thanks to the Reformation. What was it William Tyndale said? He wanted to bring more biblical literacy to the young man who plows the field than the Pope had. Well, the 21st century society has allowed just that with the outworking of the reformers efforts, putting Bible’s translated into the common language in the laity’s hands and teaching them how to read in the public education systems that were started by those very same reformers.
      Don’t look now, but by your blog post you are taking on a “reformers” role of sorts. You have an ideal in which you want to subject others to – you want to reform society for the better – thanks for that.
      Just a Thought.
      With Kind Regards,
      Jeff Lahman

      • “Priests were selling indulgences from Purgatory to build St. Peter’s Basilica.”

        You really ought to read more about indulgences before you make such accusations. There were at various times in history some abuses connected with indulgences, but the abuse of a good does not make the good, evil.
        https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/indulgences#IX._ABUSES.

        “The cup of the New Covenant in our Lord’s blood was being withheld from the laity”

        Jesus is present entirely, body, blood, soul, and divinity, both in validly consecrated bread and in validly consecrated wine. It is not necessary to receive Him under the species of wine. https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/communion-under-both-kinds

        “And now, in the 21st century, because of the Reformation, we have more Biblical literacy throughout the world then could have ever been imagined”

        Thanks to the invention of the printing press with moveable type by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1400’s, we have more literacy in the world, and the ability to print Bibles. It’s positively silly to claim that it is because of the Reformation that more people read the Bible, simply because the Reformation happened shortly thereafter.

        ” – and because of this biblical literacy Christians are no longer duped by the potential corruption of authority from within the Church – because they know their Bibles”

        And because of this biblical “literacy” we have a proliferation of denominations each interpreting (and frequently misinterpreting) the Bible.

        “There probably aren’t to many Roman Catholics sending indulgent money to their neighborhood priests to reduce the number of years they will spend in Purgatory nowadays – again, because they know their Bibles (translated into their common language), thanks to the Reformation.”

        You seem to be quite confused about indulgences. They still exist.
        https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/primer-on-indulgences-1124

        Because of the possibility of abuse, almsgiving is no longer one of the actions to which indulgences are attached. Reading Scripture, on the other hand, is. And no thanks are owed to the “Reformation,” more accurately a revolt.

        “What was it William Tyndale said? He wanted to bring more biblical literacy to the young man who plows the field than the Pope had.”

        If that was his goal, he should have used one of the good translations of the Bible that were already available, rather than writing a truly lousy one that was rife with errors both accidental and deliberate. Or do you think that people ought to be able to change the words of the Bible to suit their own agendas? That the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ translation, for example, is just peachy keen, when they changed it to deny Jesus’ divinity and to deny that Hell exists?

        “Well, the 21st century society has allowed just that with the outworking of the reformers efforts,”

        What has the 21st century to do with anything? And what on earth does “the outworking of the reformers [sic] efforts” mean?

        “putting Bible’s translated into the common language in the laity’s hands and teaching them how to read in the public education systems that were started by those very same reformers.”

        The Church had schools long before the “reformers” showed up. Are you talking about the United States’ public education system? Catholics were a minority (and an oppressed one, at that) in Colonial America. There were Catholic schools even then; but the Protestant majority set up public schools and attempted to suppress Catholic schools, both by depriving them of any money from taxes and by efforts to make it mandatory to attend public schools. So bragging about how it’s thanks to the public schools that people can read is both ignorant and unjust.

  11. Casey, Your assessment of the outworking of baptist theology is insightful. I wrote a book that centers on the sacrament of Communion and the literal words of our Lord. Baptists have rejected these words of institution in their opinionated individualism to the detriment of our society. Below is an excerpt of Chapter Two of my book – available on Amazon.

    There exists an undeniable link here between an errant concept of saving faith and our nation’s elusive concept of liberty. It is recognized most among those proponents of religious tolerance in the early years of our nation. The further away specific Christian denominations moved away from a literal understanding of our Lord’s Words in Communion, the more they succumbed to the idea of merely being accepted under this elusive banner of secular liberty. In 1801, the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut provided an example of the outworking of this truth. Baptists, in general, have formally denied in their statements of faith Christ’s words of institution in Communion. Here we see in them the concept of faith as something they create within their own opinions rather than faith in the sure testimony of the promises of our Lord. When the veracity of our Lord’s words are questioned through an errant concept of faith founded upon a man’s fickle will, when we are unsure of just where this faith is to be directed in surety, we begin to settle for mere acceptance in the society in which we find ourselves, tolerating pagan philosophies. This type of misguided faith, in the end, shrinks back from suffering for the truth into which the gospel calls the Christian. “Pick-up your cross,” Jesus bids us. Secularist liberty is attractive to those who have yet to understand the ultimate liberty presented to them by Christ through a faith that is dependent on the truth of His words alone – not a concept of faith that constantly forces itself to attempt to make that Word true by its own will or opinion. The Danbury Baptists wrote an infamous letter to Thomas Jefferson, asking that they have religious liberty – that no man ought to suffer for his religious opinion at the hand of his government. Thomas Jefferson responded to their letter with the government’s promise of the separation of Church and state, ensuring the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut that the United State’s government would not interfere with their mere opinions regarding religion. This seemingly insignificant exchange between Thomas Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists has created the basis for most of the secularist driven chaos in our nation’s history. Because the Danbury Baptists placed their concept of Christian faith in the category of a mere religious opinion, amongst all of mankind’s other religious opinions, the secularists have been given the authority to create chaos in the ethical foundations of our nation. The secularists cry out, “Separation – Separation of Church and State – your Christian opinions have no bearing whatsoever on our nation’s discernment of acceptable ethical behavior – on our lawmakers writing laws, binding our citizens to what they believe to be right or wrong.”

  12. The thief on the cross had no time to be baptized, yet Jesus said he would see him in paradise. Why? Because Christianity is not a works oriented faith, but one of trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Christianity is following and trusting in Christ….not Mary, popes, human traditions, etc. The fundamental problem confronting the average Roman Catholic is the fact that they are almost completely unaware of what the Catholic Bible teaches. Many sincere Catholics, including laymen and parish priests alike, have NEVER had sufficient cause to question the teachings of their church because they have NEVER been adequately instructed in the scriptural truths which challenge the principle doctrines of Catholicism. The tragic reality is that the overwhelming majority of Catholics have either never personally studied the Bible, or have only done so under the strict supervision and scrutiny of their church. Many have not been exposed to the clear, simple truths of the Bible because they have been repeatedly warned to rely on the official interpretations, opinions, and traditions of the church. God is opening the hearts and minds of His elect, that is one of the many reasons people are fleeing the Catholic church in droves.

    • “The thief on the cross had no time to be baptized, yet Jesus said he would see him in paradise. Why?”

      https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/the-good-thief-and-salvation-by-faith-alone

      “Because Christianity is not a works oriented faith, but one of trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior.”

      James 2:
      “14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?”

      “17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

      ” 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”

      “24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

      “26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

      Or don’t you believe the Bible?

      “Christianity is following and trusting in Christ….not Mary, popes, human traditions, etc.

      “The fundamental problem confronting the average Roman Catholic is the fact that they are almost completely unaware of what the Catholic Bible teaches.”

      The fundamental problems confronting the average “sola Scriptura” Protestant is the fact that they are almost completely unaware of what the Catholic Church teaches, and that they grossly misinterpret the Bible, which I remind you was written by Catholics and whose canon was established by the Catholic Church.

      “Many sincere Catholics, including laymen and parish priests alike, have NEVER had sufficient cause to question the teachings of their church because they have NEVER been adequately instructed in the scriptural truths which challenge the principle doctrines of Catholicism.”

      That would be your personal interpretation of “scriptural truths.” By what authority do you presume to tell anybody what Scripture means?

      “The tragic reality is that the overwhelming majority of Catholics have either never personally studied the Bible,”

      If by “personally studied” you mean “read the Bible, misinterpreted it, and made up our own religion based on our flawed interpretation,” you’re quite right.

      “or have only done so under the strict supervision and scrutiny of their church.”

      Certainly we do; since the Church, not the Bible, is the pillar and foundation of the truth, it would be folly to do otherwise.

      Many have not been exposed to the clear, simple truths of the Bible because they have been repeatedly warned to rely on the official interpretations, opinions, and traditions of the church.”

      “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
      Acts 8:27 “And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?”

      2 Peter 16″ “He [St. Paul] writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

      According to the Bible, the truths of the Bible are not necessarily clear or simple. So, who am I going to believe – you, or the Bible?

      “God is opening the hearts and minds of His elect, that is one of the many reasons people are fleeing the Catholic church in droves.”

      Nobody flees the Catholic Church because God opened his heart or his mind. Largely, it’s because they want cheap, easy grace (“Hey, look, I’ve said this prayer and now I’m saved and I don’t actually have to do anything!”), or because they have chosen to remain ignorant of the Faith and lazy in practice. Or it bothers them that the teachings of the Church inconvenience them. And the poisonous atmosphere of modern culture doesn’t help, nor the fact that the Church refuses to say that wrong (abortion, contraception, homosexual acts, divorce and remarriage) is right.

  13. Mr. Chalk,
    Infant Baptism is not in the Bible, the Bible does not record any instance of infant Baptism nor does it advocate infant Baptism. Furthermore, Dr. Mohler’s theology is biblically accurate and his biblical perspective of baptism makes it authoritative. Although you have provided traditionalist/historical figures, you have not provided any Bible verses to make your case for infant baptism or your case against Baptist Theology. As a prominent pastor has said, “You can’t read habits into scripture, you can’t read traditions into scripture, history is no hermeneutic, only honest exegesis in the scripture can yield true meaning of scripture. I urge Catholics to read the scriptures for themselves and embrace Bible teaching churches so that they may gain a biblical understanding of the Christian faith.

    • Lilian,
      Mr. Chalk can surely explain better than I can but there is a scripture verse in Acts that suggests infant baptism or at least doesn’t rule it out.
      I hear what you are saying about the Bible and if I wasn’t Catholic I’d probably use the same instructions you suggest. Biblical values and teachings are critical today.
      God bless!

    • “Infant Baptism is not in the Bible, the Bible does not record any instance of infant Baptism nor does it advocate infant Baptism.”

      Except that it does. Try reading this: https://www.catholic.com/tract/infant-baptism

      “Furthermore, Dr. Mohler’s theology is biblically accurate and his biblical perspective of baptism makes it authoritative.”

      Strange that you’re willing to accept that some random professor’s interpretation of the Bible is authoritative, but you don’t think that the interpretation of the Catholic Church, which our Lord founded, is.

      “Although you have provided traditionalist/historical figures, you have not provided any Bible verses to make your case for infant baptism or your case against Baptist Theology.”

      So? The Bible isn’t the ultimate authority. It is the Church that is the pillar and ground of the truth.

      “As a prominent pastor has said, “You can’t read habits into scripture, you can’t read traditions into scripture, history is no hermeneutic, only honest exegesis in the scripture can yield true meaning of scripture.”

      Do tell. And yet I am quite willing to bet that your nameless “prominent pastor” has interpreted Scripture in ways with which other Protestants who do “honest exigesis” disagree. By what authority does he claim that his interpretation is the correct one?

      “I urge Catholics to read the scriptures for themselves and embrace Bible teaching churches so that they may gain a biblical understanding of the Christian faith.”

      Do you imagine that Catholics don’t read the Bible? You appear not to realize that the authors of the New Testament were Catholic, and that the canon of the Bible was established by the Catholic Church. And which “Bible teaching church” are you recommending? When two of those “Bible teaching churches” disagree, how are you planning to decide which one is correct?

    • Couldn’t agree more! That’s why, after I left my fundamentalist Baptist seminary back in ’98, I became a completed Christian in Christ’s Holy Roman Catholic Church. The Scriptures, given to the world by the Holy Spirit through the Catholic Church, will lead you home if you simply open your heart to God’s calling and ignore American prot bigotry and lies. Keep reading, Lillian. The fullness of Christ awaits!

    • Hello Ms. Doss,

      Thanks for your comment. However, your arguments presume the Protestant doctrines of perspicuity and sola scriptura, and are thus examples of question-begging. Question-begging means making an argument where your argument presumes the very things you and another person disagree about, and is thus self-defeating. Catholics don’t “read the Bible for themselves,” but within their community and tradition. And, frankly, neither do you. When you sit down to read the Bible, you bring with you all the intellectual, spiritual, religious, socio-cultural, and linguistic influences of your life with you, and you cannot help but impose them upon the biblical text. There is no such thing as an individual Christian sitting down with the Bible as in an intellectual and social vacuum and divining the Bible’s “plain meaning,” absent all those influences. in Christ, casey

  14. Wow. Thanks for a great article explaining theological arguments clearly for a non-expert. I greatly admire Al Mohler (and Russell Moore too) but this article has given me food for thought.

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  1. Should We Evangelize Protestants? | Catholic Canada
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