In an article in the latest 9Marks e-journal, Mark Dever makes this statement:
“I have many dear paedo-baptists friends from whom I have learned much. Yet I see their practice as a sinful (though sincere) error from which God protects them by allowing for inconsistency in their doctrinal system, just as he graciously protects me from consistency with my own errors.”
It is a statement that has gotten him in trouble with several upstanding bloggers. That said, in my humble opinion, it is really nothing new or controversial (as Dever has sought to explain in this follow up post). Those who (by conviction) practice believers baptism only think that paedobaptized Christians (who are never subsequently baptized upon conversion) are in sin for never having been truly baptized. That is what it means to be a baptist by conviction. Meanwhile, those who practice paedobaptism by conviction (like R. Scott Clark) believe that baptists are in sin for not applying the sign of the covenant (baptism) to their children. By this logic, my wife and I are in sin for not baptizing our three-year old daughter or eighteen-month old son.
So there you have it. Each thinks the other is in unintentional sin. Nevertheless, each is able (or should be able) to work with the other for the good of the gospel’s witness in the world, as we look forward to the perfect unity of heaven. This, I think, is the right way to be “together for the gospel.” Saying we are united in Christ doesn’t mean that we disregard our convictions. On the contrary, true “tolerance” is loving a brother in Christ while remaining firmly convinced that he is wrong in this or that — even as you pray that he loves and receives you in spite of your errors (of which you are not entirely aware).
Update: This post has been updated to correct the suggestion that James Grant practices paedobaptism. Mr. Grant is in fact a Baptist (God bless him….).