The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

(The following is a continuation of my journey from the life as a Southern Baptist pastor to life as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.)

On the Sunday afternoon following our last meeting as Providence Baptist Church we began to discuss where we should worship the Lord on the following Sunday. Many of the Baptist churches in the area were somewhat suspicious of us (okay, that may be a bit of an understatement), so we thought we might try Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPC) in Beaumont because we had heard some positive comments about it from some acquaintances.

Visiting a Presbyterian church was quite a jump for us, for in southeast Texas the only Presbyterian churches of which we were aware belonged to the ultra-liberal Presbyterian Church USA. However, we knew that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was a Biblically conservative denomination (for I had a friend that attended one in a different part of the state) and after reading up on the history of the Presbyterian Church in America, to which RPC belonged, we found a denomination that subscribed to the Westminster Standards which for us was a positive sign. We also looked online and found an order of worship and were very impressed and determined to visit on the following Sunday.

We fell in love with the simple, reverent, God-centered worship, and heard a Gospel message directly from God’s Word (I believe Pastor Mark was preaching through the Book of Hebrews at the time). We went back the next week and then the next, and other then a few times when I was the pulpit supply at another church, we never missed. After a month or two we decided that it was important to do more than visit, and that the time had come for us to join. I realized that all that was required to join RPC was a credible profession of faith, but I thought that if I was going to be a Presbyterian, I should at least honestly look at areas where I disagreed a little more closely.

Being someone who personally subscribed (at the time) to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith meant that I had much in common with the doctrine there. The only real issues that I had were with the covenant baptism of the children of believers, and the mode of that (or any) baptism. I had often argued against “infant baptism” but always from the frame of reference of one who was defending his own credobaptist-only views (Presbyterians also believe in credobaptism), and desired to try to look at the paedobaptist arguments with an open mind.

I asked Pastor Mark for a few books on baptism, and he handed me a stack of books about 20 inches high. I nestled down for the next couple of months, digging into the covenantal arguments for the baptism of the children of believers. (To be continued)


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