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I am still trying to figure out how is it that pastor Caicedo's posted comments make sense? And, there is a statement (see quote below) on his part that needs to be clarified:

"But theologically speaking, the denomination contradicts itself by accepting something that is not according to our theology, regardless of who administer it or not."

This Forum post has to do with church governance, namely, people who aspire to hold office in the CRC but who still believe and approve of rebaptism. The topic of discussion is not the Roman Catholic Church and the legitimacy of her baptisms, although this indeed is the crux of the matter for Hispanic Evangelicals, whom tend to view the RCC as a false religion (as plain and simple as that), due in part to their Fundamentalist ties to modern American Evangelicals and its missionary efforts in Latin America.

Dr. DeMoor's answer is pretty clear, at least for me. Based on Articles 57 and 58 of the Church Order and a long history that goes back to Calvin and even further, to the first centuries of the Church: the belief and practice of rebaptism "constitutes a denial of the doctrine of infant baptism." And this "error" needs to be corrected before appropriate participation in any office of the church.

It is of common knowledge (perhaps not so common for CRC members) that the overwhelming majority of Latin American Evangelicals have Anabaptist views when it comes to the sacraments; not only they regard the RCC as false, they tend to rebaptize even people who come from within other Evangelical denominations; so it is not rare to find people who have been rebaptized two or three or more times when joining or switching denominations. And as far as infant baptism is concerned, the most common explanation I've heard as to why Latin American Evangelicals do not baptize infants is "because the Roman Catholics do it."

So, my humble attempt to find an explanation at all this is that I suspect the reasons behind these anti-Roman Catholic sentiments and anti-paedobaptist views are more emotional than theological or even rational.

The original question is still valid: What do we do with church officials who are hesitant to align with the CRC's views on other Christian denominations and on rebaptism? Do we apply a double (or even multiple) theological standard: a strict one for Anglo churches, another one more flexible (and perhaps condescending) for the so-called ethnic churches?


Salve Ioannes Exclusa! (Howdy John Zylstra!), originally I thought this topic is of such a low interest for readers, that it is no surprise that it has about 250 views. Nevertheless, as Lou has pointed out, it should be an important topic for it involves commitment to the Reformed tradition.

Now, I am still patiently awaiting an answer from pastor Caicedo, since I directed some questions to him. But, now I am also obliged to reply to some of your answers.

First of all, let me tell you with a humble spirit that some of your statements could be easily read as generalizations, stereotypes or even prejudicial; proofreading is something that we all need.

Let me point out some of these issues I found in your answer, acknowledging that we all make mistakes when talking or writing or typing with a computer keyboard, and we do not necessarily mean what the end result may be saying to the reader.

1. "Our forms and theology indicates that it is wrong to baptize your children out of custom or superstition."

I would love to see which forms and where in our theology such statement finds support, because I could not find it.

2. " We have a problem when children are baptized superstitiously by those who do not truly believe, and who do not teach or bring up their children in the instruction of the Lord."

You are not suggesting (like pastor Caicedo's argument) that "we" have a problem with the validity of children baptized by ministers or priests whose faith or life is questionable or by parents who end up not fulfilling their Christian duties? Because, if you are suggesting that, then it should be pointed that it is "you" not "we." This is an issue that was virtually solved in the 5th century, when the Church decided to recognize the sacraments performed by questionable ministers (the Donatist controversy), and 10 centuries later, the very same John Calvin decided to ratify this practice. The answer is simple, it is God who gives us and guarantees all his promises of his covenant, to children and to adults, in the sacraments. He is always in control, in spite of our human failures. He is not dependent upon our worthiness to perform his covenant promises.

Also, you do not imply (like pastor Caicedo) that baptisms performed in Latin America by Roman Catholic priests are considered "superstitious," and  "pagan"? How about baptisms performed by Roman Catholic priests in the U.S.A. and Canada? Are they not superstitious and pagan? Because, let me tell you, there is an ugly and common misconception among many North Americans that the Catholicism of Latin America is different from the Catholicism of North America. It is argued, in a subtle racist way, that the one Catholicism is "superstitious" and full of pagan elements; while the other Catholicism is more civilized and appropriate. Ironically, people who think this way are not Roman Catholics themselves, they are Protestants with a prejudice, a racial one (among other prejudices). I have taken the time to verify this issue with authoritative Roman Catholic officials, and the answer has always been the same: there are no differences in official dogma and practices. Now, if you are thinking that there is a difference because of cultural expressions and minor differences in rites, that would be a mistake. It would be like the differences in worship styles and order of worship, and sanctuary shape and size, and wording in the sacraments, etc. in CRC churches. Let me mention one example to support what I've said. Why in the world the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids invites every year priests from Mexico or even all the way down from South America, to perform mass and baptisms and weddings and funerals, etc. if they would consider them "superstitious" or "pagan" or a "magical endowment"?

3. You also mentioned that the Anabaptist's aversion to infant baptism "is not relevant to our perspective on this." I strongly disagree with you. It has a lot to do with our perspective on this. In fact, it was one of the hottest issues during the Reformation, besides the papacy. You also mentioned that this aversion of the Anabaptists "is based on the hypocrisy and meaninglessness and paganism imbedded in the application of baptism in cases where true faith and repentance is non-existence." This is also a wrong generalization and I disagree with it. I think that the Anabaptists aversion to infant baptism, in tune with their Radical Reformation approach, is that they did not understand the covenant and the continuity of God's sovereign kingdom on earth. The Anabaptists were seditious because they wanted to erase 15 centuries of Christian history and start afresh with a new church fashioned out of their own extreme views. This is what I learned at Calvin, and if I learned wrong, then someone else is also wrong. I am tempted to mention concepts like "ex opere operato" or "in persona Christi" to explain what is behind the Reformed concept of the sacrament of baptism, but I am sure there are others who are more qualified to explain these things in plain English without the use of Latin.

4. There are other serious connotations to the practice of rebaptism in the CRC, besides this one related to the Church Order. I am only mentioning them lightly because they deserve a post of their own. One of them is that we believe we are one church. If we are one church, we must constantly strive for visible unity. Conflicting practices when it comes to baptism do not help our unity and witness. It creates parallel churches within our church, churches who in name are CRC but in practice are Anabaptists or Baptists or Pentecostal or, worse yet, generic Evangelical Churches, who are blown back and forth by winds of theological fashions, and the personal tastes of benevolent dictator-pastors… we called them in Spanish, "caudillos," which comes from the Latin "capitellum" (= little heads).

Dear brother Caicedo, I did not understand your second paragraph; it was unclear, at least to me.

Perhaps it is time to summon the help of the experts, because our conversations are in different frequencies, and my intuition tells me that we are not going to get out of this language issue.

Therefore, I offer a non-Reformed prayer:

Care frater DeMoor, salva nos ab nostris confusio

…I am going to name one of the elephants in the CRC living room

the reason why the CRC was "succesfull" in the past is very simple, and it has more to do with anthropology and sociology than with faith and religion: racial solidarity

those who grew up in the bosom of the CRC know very well what I am talking about

I agree with James' observations about the so-called streams. It not only pigeon-holes people, but in my humble view, how can we possibly have a clear taxonomy of people in the CRC? When in reality, the CRC is composed of a steady flow (in waves, that is) of immigrants from the Low Countries since circa 1850s. Logically, we would be inclined to think that the most recent waves of immigrants are probably the ones who have more influence in the affairs of the church, that is, the post-WWII immigrants, namely, the Canadian side of the church. And, with the same logic we would suspect that the pietistic stream, the oldest, is no longer influential since it is over a century old.

The closest "timing" of such waves that I can think of is divided in eras: 1850s, 1880s, 1920s, and Post-WWII. For me, the era that interests me the most is the fourth one (Post-WWII) for it is in that era that the church began to open just a little to other ethnicities (1950s).

Also, the Kuyperian model is problematic, especially for people of color.

The irony of this topic is that in the CRC we have now more churches than ever, but our membership continues to decline. Could we draw some correlation between these two elements?

Perhaps, on the one hand we have an agency-driven obsession to "plant churches." And on the other hand, we have congregations that need to boost their commitment to reach the "outside" world, and take command of their God-given duty (and Church Order duty) to evangelize.

Hi Jon:

You may download the latest CRCNA statistics and see these two elements. The link is here:

Dear Randy:

I am sorry to hear that my comments riled you. But, frankly, your comments sound threatening and chastising, which is probably because you wrote them in anger... not a good mood for this forum.

Nevertheless, Jon's question to my comment is still unanswered: is it true that we have more churches and less people?

You also drew some conclusions and conjectures from my very brief comment, which I believe are unfair for you to have written. I started my comment by carefully writing "Perhaps." For me, this is an exploratory "perhaps" with the honest desire to hear what other have to say on this topic. 

I was overwhelmed by so many comments in favor of a so-called "Reformed Charismatic" label. For me, as a convert to Reformed Christianity, who flirted with Charismatic Evangelicalism for a while, I cannot disagree more with such stream. I apologize for being so blunt by I think we are being too naïve about the Charismatic movement and its benefits for our tradition. Yes, we need to change. But, that's what we have been trying to do since the Reformation (ecclesia reformata semper reformada…) and even before that.

The amount of heresy, arbitrary interpretations, lack of accountability, moral failures, prosperity gospel, abuse of power, apostles and prophets, latter-rain superiority, plain money-making schemes, and many other evils are more patent in the Charismatic movement than in any other segment of the Church. I can boldly say this because many, many years ago I had the "privilege" of working in a Charismatic television station, and had the chance to see first hand the lives of people who claim to be superior to other Christians who lack the fullness of the Spirit and its supernatural gifts. I've seen people who would make Bishop Earl Paulk look like a kindergartener as far as moral failures. I could go on and on, but for the sake of sanity, I am done. Please, take another look at things before jumping into a bandwagon that might look like one of those cinnamon rolls at the pastry shop, so delicious, so enticing, so sweet, so jummy, and so bad for your health.

Dear David, you have inadvertedly uncover one of those sneaky "blind spots" that the CRC has about herself (every human group has them).

I will reveal to you and to your readers that secret or blind spot. I can do that not because I might be super smart or have a special channel of divine revelation or have a brain the size of those aliens from Star Trek (the Talosians). I can do that simply because I can observe the CRC from an "outsider" point of view (after all, I am sort of a Hispanic/Latino immigrant, Reformed-convert, CTS-graduate, adopted into the CRC).

Here it is: the truth is that the CRC "is" an ethnic religious group. I know that most people in the church see themselves as "average" American or Canadian, but looking it from a socio-religious-cultural perspective, the CRC is an ethnic enclave.

Let me anecdotally illustrate this. Many years ago, I was doing an intership in a large metropolitan city way south (but still in the U.S.), far away from the brain wave signals of Grand Rapids and its cultural influence. The church was "average" American, namely, it represented the sort of diverse population you might find anywhere in the country. Nevertheless, it had a susbtantial majority of people from Michigan to the point that some of the other White folks asked "why is there so many people from Grand Rapids in this congregation, and why do we talk so much about Michigan and Grand Rapids?"

They were also inadvertedly probing that blind spot. So, every time I read comments about "ethnic" groups in the CRC, I smile. Now, to be clear, some people love to say that we are growing in diversity and that things are changing for candidates so that it is hard to find a church. But, if we really look at statistics, the CRC is still very ethnic and very little has changed. So, if you are an "average" CRC candidate, you shouldn't really fear anything because a church is waiting for you somewhere.

I didn't miss the point. I just did not want to be too "wordy" and take up too many lines of this blog (research tells us that when web surfers see too many lines of text, they scroll down or click away of that page).

Yes, the candidates are waiting, that is obvious. Some of them wait for so long that they lose sight of their "vocatio." But, churches are also waiting, and taking their time exploring, searching, enjoying congregational life, cruising along with local retired ministers, et cetera. There is neither a single cause, nor a single solution.

Now, implicit in David's article is the answer already. Don't you think? Many candidates are in the waiting room because they are not fully prepare (due to multiple reasons) to take any call into any place. But, I am still conviced that under "normal" and "average" (poor word choice on my part indeed) circumstances, the candidate should be able to link with a church.

Now, another one off course: why is it that Anglo pastors can always serve ethnic churches and not always viceversa?

The whole taxonomy of people is flawed. Especially the polarized "Caucasian vs. People of Color," because it is prone to arbitrary categorizations. The Taliban from Afganistan are as Caucasian as they can be, or the Azerbaijani to mention another ethnicity. Yet, the average North American would not buy the idea that they are Caucasian. Many Latin American would be shocked to find out that they are People of Color, especially if their ancestry is predominantly Mediterranean. And, to make things more complicated, what to do with those millions of emerging Latino-White children in the U.S., the ones who are already here and who will replace us in the next generations? I suspect we need a different working taxonomy or perhaps no taxonomy at all.

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