Question and Answer
What are the differences between Reformed Baptists and the OPC?
I am deeply confused on the major differences between Reformed Baptist Christians and the OPC. I understand the main issue is the Believer's Baptism. But I've read articles where Reformed Christians don't care for Reformed Baptists calling themselves "Reformed". Why is this? I know there is more to Reformed Theology than the doctrines of grace. Can you please explain the major differences and why some might suggest a Reformed Baptist truly isn't "Reformed"?
It is important to stress the fact that the OPC has much in common with what are commonly called "Reformed Baptist Churches." But, at the same time, the differences are not unimportant. The main difference is that we believe the covenant that God made with Abraham (Gen. 17:1-14) remains in effect under the New Testament (Gal. 3:17). Therefore, the children of believers are entitled to receive the sign and seal of the covenant today just as they were in Abraham's day and through Old Testament history. There is a difference, to be sure, between what was required then and what is required now. Then it was a bloody sign and seal called circumcision. Now (since the blood of Christ has been shed once and for all, making any more blood shedding obsolete) the sign and seal is water baptism. But the meaning—and those who are entitled to receive it—remains the same for, as the apostle Paul says, "in him [Christ] you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands…by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism…" (Col. 2:11).
One of the most cogent arguments for this understanding, in my opinion, is what we read in Acts 17:11. The Jews in the Synagogue at Berea "were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word [that is, the word that Paul preached] with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures [that is, the Old Testament] to find out whether these things were so." In other words, they found Paul's teaching about the covenant of grace, in the New Testament Church, to be in perfect harmony with the teaching of their inherited Old Testament Scriptures. They were not told that their children would no longer receive the sign and seal of the covenant of grace under the New Testament.
Now this is not the only difference between historic Reformed Presbyterian churches and those churches known as Reformed Baptist. Quite often we have seen a significant difference also in their form of government. One of the things I value very highly as a Presbyterian is the right of appeal. If there is maladministration in my local church I have a right to appeal to my Presbytery to seek correction (much as Paul and others did in the church at Antioch [Acts 15]). I have known of instances in which people of Baptist churches have suffered greatly because they have lacked the wonderful provision that we have as Presbyterians. Other differences could be mentioned. But these are, in my opinion, the most important ones.
It is important to add that we do most heartily rejoice in the resurgence of the teaching and preaching of the doctrines of sovereign grace among many of our Baptist brothers.
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)
The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.
The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.
While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.
You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.
The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been editedall personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expandedto make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.