Catabaptism in the Presbyterian Church in America

"Baptism is but once to be administered to any one person (WCF 28:7).  If a professing believer desires to improve his baptism (as indeed all believers should), the means of improving it is not re-baptism but rather seeking with all our heart to live up to the engagement to belong wholly to the Lord which our baptism signifies (see LC 167)."


Baptismal advice sought by Grace Presbytery at 1982 PCA

Notwithstanding the above excellent advice given by the 1982 General Assembly, there was now to be more catabaptistic baptismal disagreement in the PCA than ever before. For Western Carolinas Presbytery had asked the 1982 PCA General Assembly for advice not just about the previously mentioned question, but also about two other baptismal questions (irrelevant to this present dissertation).

In addition, also Grace Presbytery had asked the 1982 PCA General Assembly for advice about four different baptismal problems.   Three of those problems are indeed relevant to this present study. 

Thus confronted with no less than seven baptismal questions, the 1982 General Assembly now set up a special Committee to Study the Validity of Certain Baptisms. The Committee was mandated thereafter to report back to a subsequent General Assembly on all seven of the above questions. 

The answer to one of these seven questions had already been proposed to the 1982 General Assembly itself (see above).645   Only three of the other six questions — the first, second and third questions raised by Grace Presbytery — are relevant to our own present dissertation.

Here is Grace Presbytery's first question:646 "Are the recipients of so-called baptism by a religious body which claimed the sacraments as a part of a process of justification (as in the case of Roman Catholic, Church of Christ, or Lutheran churches), proper recipients of Christian baptism?"

Here are Grace Presbytery's further questions:647 "Are those who were presented by unbelieving parents for so-called infant baptism proper recipients of Christian baptism?  Are those baptized as adults or older children (it is understood that these persons were not professing believers at the time they presented themselves for baptism) proper recipients of Christian baptism?"

1983 secession from the PCA of the 1984 antirebaptist RPCUS

The PCA was soon facing many new tensions, including some of a non-baptismal nature.    In 1983, there was a secession of confessionalists from the newly-enlarged PCA.  [In 1984, these secessionists constituted themselves as the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS) — in 1990 renamed the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the Americas (RPCA).]

Prior to the secession, its leader — Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Morecraft III — noted the catabaptist practices of baptistic missionaries in South America who routinely rebaptize all Ex-Romanists.   Morecraft rightly, and often, condemned this rebaptism


of protestantized Ex-Romanists.  He did so in many conversations with this present writer.648   It is presumed that, on this point, the RPCUS-RPCA is still confessional -and therefore officially anticatabaptist.

1983f: the catabaptist controversy within the PCA 'Baptisms Committee'

We now return to the development ofa  fresh baptismal controversy, from 1983 onward, within the 'Committee on the Validity of Certain Baptisms' appointed by the PCA at its 1982 General Assembly.  This time, it concerned not only the validity of infantly baptized children of unbelieving Protestants, but also (as in prior times) inter alia the rebaptizability of presbyterianized Ex-Romish  and other ritualists.

Our own involvement in this new controversy of our old denomination in the USA, commenced in December 1983. For it was then that Dr. John G. Thompson — on the Session of the PCA in Kingsport, Tennessee — wrote to us for advice.   He and others — including Dr. C.W. Bogue and Dr. G.W. Knight III649 — had been appointed by the 1982 PCA General Assembly to serve on its previously mentioned Committee on the Validity of Certain Baptisms.

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