Westminster Confession: New Birth is Unnecessary
The Westminster Assembly has written:
"The seed and posterity of the faithful, born within the Church, have by their birth, interest in the covenant and right to the seal of it…. Children by baptism are solemnly received into the bosom of the Visible Church…. They are Christians and federally holy before baptism, and therefore are they baptized." – Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1645).
“Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized.” – Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 28, 4., p 114, Baptism
Two Ways of Being A Christian?
So, according to Westminster and paedobaptists, there are two groups of people who are Christians:
- Those who ‘actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ’
- but also ‘infants of one or more believing parents’
In addition, according to WCF and in regard to infants of believers, they
- are Christians, and
- have a right to Baptism
Can the teachings and belief of Westminster and paedobaptists be more clear?
Yet Scripture tells us clearly:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12,13
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [lit. from above] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ [lit. from above] – John 3:5-7
That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as seed. – Romans 9:8
According to God
Unless one is born again, from above (i.e. regenerated) he:
- has not been given the right – from God – to be baptized
- has not been given the right – from God – to become a child of God
- cannot see the kingdom of God
- cannot enter the kingdom of God, and
- cannot be a child of God, that is, a Christian
God says all born after the flesh are not Christians, not children of God.
Westminster and the paedobaptists say “Oh yes they are!”
Brethren, they have declared as unnecessary, contrary to the holy Word of God, repentance, faith and the new birth. They have invented in their own eyes Christians after the flesh. There is no such thing.
The Right to Baptism
Scripture is clear brethren. The right to Baptism belongs only to those who repent and “whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:38,39. An infant who has not personally known the effectual call of God unto salvation is neither a Christian nor has a right to baptism as a seal of the promise given in the call.
No minister, nor loving parents have any biblical authority to declare by proxy their infants to be called of God unto salvation, and those ministers who baptize non-confessing, unrepentant infants do deceive and defraud.
The Westminster Directory for the Public Worship of God declares, “The seed of the faithful are Christians.”
Our Lord God tells us plainly, “You must be born again.”
Turning A Blind Eye
To dismiss the necessity of the new birth is a great error. For one to have the right to baptism and to see and enter the kingdom of God as a true child of God, one must be born again, from above, by the sovereign act of the Spirit of God.
Which will the Church hold higher before the world, God’s Word or tradition? Christians, to be faithful to God’s Word, as the pillars of His truth, the Church, we must not turn a blind eye to these inconvenient facts, but must regard this teaching of Westminster and the paedobaptists as a rejection of biblical truth. Indeed, we must call this error what it truly is:
My only contention in this post, and my only position, is that what Westminster has written dismisses the need for spiritual rebirth. As it opposes what our Lord has spoken, “You must be born again”, yes, the teaching is heretical, a deviation from foundational biblical truth.
Confessions and catechisms have their place, and can be a great help to Christians. Subscribing to the Westminster Confession does not mean such a one enjoys error or condones it; and, adherence to or advocation of paedobaptism is not in itself evidence of a lack of salvific grace. Yet it still opposes Scripture and still opposes the teaching of our Lord Jesus, and there I must stand. It most certainly reflects a lack of Scriptural understanding on the matter. That, of course, does not call for condescending attitude, but grace and understanding. It also calls for a firm stand upon Scripture regardless of consequences. If all those puritans and reformers whom I admire were, if possible, to insist they are correct when my Lord says otherwise, then I must say those whom I admire are opposing my Lord. I have no other choice.
- Joel Taylor