Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tale of Reformed statistics

Pedobaptist PCA [Presbyterian]
Statistics & Dr. Mohler's "Triage"

The Presbyterian Church in America is often proclaimed to be the epitomy of conservative Reformed theology. And occasionally we read or hear about a Baptist who is so obsessed with "Reformed theology" that he decides to join the PCA because of some alleged intolerable conditions he is encountering in his Baptist affiliation, leading to his preferring being Presbyterian rather than remaining a Baptist.

Also, the PCA is frequently embellished by some Baptist sources which promote their authors and speakers -- such as Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Tom Nettles, and Pastor Tom Ascol have done.

Dr. Mohler's recently discussed "theological triage" would most likely categorize PCA members and churches as inclusive in his "first tier." If so, this again raises the question in our minds as to "how?" Dr. Mohler could validate this categorization for this Pedobaptist denomination.

We have in the past taken note of the PCA's own statistical report of its membership and baptisms. The lastest we can find by the PCA is found here.

2007 Total Membership -- 345,582
5-year, total baptisms -- 39,743
5-year, adult baptisms -- 12,952 (32.59%)
5-year, infant baptisms -- 26,791 (67.41%)

If this 5-year rate is taken as a statistical standard, this indicates that 232,957 members (over 67%) of the reported total membership of 345,582 were baptized in infancy.

According to Pedobaptist Reformed theology, those baptized infants received baptism as the "sign and seal" of their inclusion in the "covenant" which allegedly includes their "regeneration." They were added to the membership roll on this pretext and regarded as "born again covenant children," according to the Reformed theologians.

While baptism itself is not regarded as contributing to their "regeneration," nevertheless baptism is regarded as the "sign and seal" that those baptized are "regenerated" in infancy -- before, at, or shortly after their baptism -- and their names are entered on the church roll as members.

Dr. W. G. T. Shedd says:
"The infant of the believer receives the Holy Spirit as a regenerating Spirit, by virtue of the covenant between God and his people . . . . The infant of the believer, consequently, obtains the regenerating grace by virtue of his birth and descent from a believer in covenant with God, and not by virtue of his baptism. God has promised the blessing of the Holy Spirit to those who are born of his people. The infant of a believer, by this promise, is born into the church, as the infant of a citizen is born into the state. . . . They are church members by reason of their birth from believing parents . . . Baptism is the infallible sign of regeneration, when the infant dies in infancy. All baptized infants dying before the age of self-consciousness, are regenerated without exception. Baptism is the probable sign of regeneration when the infant lives to years of discretion. . . . So a baptized child, in adult years, may renounce his baptism and church membership, become an infidel, and join the synagogue of Satan; but until he does this, he must be regarded as member of the church of Christ" (Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, pages 576, 577).

By Baptist confessional standards, such as the Southern Baptist Convention's Baptist Faith & Message, these infants were not regenerated and therefore they did not qualify for church membership.

I suppose that Dr. Mohler even agrees that unregenerate baptized infants do not qualify for church membership. Certainly, we should at least expect that Pastor Tom Ascol ("Founders Ministries") would agree on this, especially in the light of his "Resolution" on regenerate church membership which was presented and approved at the 2008 annual Southern Baptist Convention.

On the whole, the PCA statistics mean that infant baptism is primarily the method by which the PCA sustains its membership -- baptizing unregenerate infants and adding them to the church membership roll.

As a denominational entity, how can Dr. Mohler and those who endorse his "theological triage" -- such as the "Founders" and the "Great Commission Resurgence" -- include the Presbyterian Church in America as "first tier"? With over 67% of the membership baptized as unregenerate infants, how can the PCA as a denomination be regarded as a "first tier" Gospel-preaching entity?

Is their infant regeneration gospel much different than the Campbellite gospel, the Mormon gospel, the Pentecostal gospel, the Roman Catholic gospel, etc.?


  1. OK to use material

    Pastor Bruce Oyen writes in an email:

    Brother Bob,
    I had a problem posting this the normal way, so here it is as an e-mail:

    This is really good and important info. Please keep it coming! I have taken the liberty to cut and paste your post to send it to friends.. Hope that's okay.

    Yes, Bruce, it is OK to use any material I write, unless otherwise specified in the material. That has always been my policy.

  2. Bob:

    Timmy Brister , an associate pastor of Founders Executive Director Tom Ascol, also says he "was trained by a PCA conference" whom he must includes among church planters he considers "are much better at what they do and have the records to prove it". This is a rather dim view of Baptists, especially those of the Reformed persuasion whom we are told are evangelistic and engaged in church planting. Maybe they are not really "better at what they do and have the records to prove it." This would agree with the critique made against those Reformed Calvinists pushing their agenda on others.

  3. Bob:

    One wonders why Timmy Brister does not go to the Saddleback conferences since Warren is committed to evangelism and church planting and makes sure that those becoming part of the church are put through courses on church membership, basic theology, service in the church and evangelism. Are these not things important for a healthy and growing church? Furthermore, Rick Warren has affirmed integrity in membership and that he is a Calvinist, two other issues important to Brister. He originally welcomed Warren's support in a Comment which is now gone (deleted?) though alluded to in Steve Camp's comment("Don't drink the Kool-Aid on Rick commenting here, if it is really him, though your young apprentice has. This is nothing but politics as usual for him") and posted about it on his blog (Rick Warren Signs on to Ascol's Resolution).

    Whether or not it was Warren -- Brister says it was -- Brister's response shows willingness to comment Warren for such a commitment to the issue. Why not take advantage of the training seminars given by Saddleback, a Southern Baptist church, that has been "practicing what they preach" in the areas of membership training, evangelism and church planting for over 20 years? He might benefit from them.


    I just don't have time or interest to keep tabs on very many blogs, but I am thankful that Ian has called my attention to Steve Camp's blog on which he has reprinted PCA minister R. C. Sproul's heresy about
    "regeneration precedes faith."

    This is an excellent example of the usual non-creedal Hybrid Calvinist heresy advocated by the PCA Pedobaptists, and it was designed to accommodate their heresy that their infants get "regenerated" without and before faith in Christ, thereby creating a "regenerated unbeliever" who is immediately added to the church roll as a member of the church.

    Sometimes we have had a Hybrid Calvinist write and say that this heresy "does not mean that there are born again people walking around out there without faith."

    But the fact is, the MAJORITY (as the latest PCA stats reveal) of PCA members were allegedly "regenerated" in infancy long before they became believers (if ever). There are therefore plenty of these baptized unbelieving PCA members who not only are "walking around" but "crawling around" and even teething.

    To access my refutations of R. C. Sproul, go to
    HERE and go down the list of articles to "Sproul," etc.

    Steve Camp is just one of the blogging Hybrid Calvinists who is obsessed with the Pedobaptist Reformed notion that one is "born again before, without, and apart from faith." We exposed Steve's misrepresentation of John Owen on the Calvinist Flywatter.

    To read Sproul's example of Pedobaptist Reformed Hybrid Calvinism on "regeneration," you can go to Steve Camp's blog:

  5. Correction - Sproul link.

    The URL for my articles on R. C. Sproul is as follows:

    Select Writings of Bob Ross