By J. Parnell McCarter



We read in II Thessalonians 2:3-4 :


“Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”


The Westminster Confession rightly identifies who this man of sin is:


“There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.”


The temple of God in which the man of sin sits is the visible Christian Church, even as that archetypal son of perdition Judas Iscariot sat in the visible church of his day.  This is what makes the Papacy so deceptive.


Hence, the Pope and his Romish church are within the visible Christian church.  Thus, the baptism of Rome is the baptism of the visible Christian church (for it is triune).  So there should not be re-baptism of people previously baptized in the Church of Rome.  (Triune) baptism is to be administered once only in the life of a person, symbolizing the once in a lifetime regeneration of a person.


We can be thankful that the effort of some in the Free Prebyterian Church of Scotland (FPCS) to change the historic stance regarding the baptism of Rome has not passed.    The FPCS continues to uphold the historic practice of not re-baptizing those previously baptized with the triune baptism of Rome.  As noted at http://www.puritans.net/news/catabaptism091905.htm , the FPCS has always held this position: “Anticatabaptist Reformed theologians since Thornwell's time onward, include… the Free Church of Scotland's William Cunningham and 'Rabbi' Duncan; the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland's Cameron, MacIntyre, Beaton, Macfarlane, Macqueen and Maclean…”  The FPCS has historically been anticatabaptist, as was the old Free Church, and as was the Church of Scotland.


What seems to me to have even raised the issue to consideration in the FPCS, at least in part, were the arguments of some who left the FPCS in the Lord Mackay case  (for more on this case see the article at http://www.puritans.net/news/lordmackaycase081505.htm ).  Some who left the FPCS fallaciously justified their actions  in part on the basis that the Romish Church is part of the visible Christian church.  For instance, consider the case of Rev. John Tallach.  Rev. John Tallach, formerly in the FPCS, wrote a booklet entitled  A Plea Against Extremism.  We read about Rev. John Tallach and his booklet at http://40bicycles.blogspot.com/2004_06_20_40bicycles_archive.html  :



“Quite apart from this, one must appreciate that Hodge was engaged at the forefront of a debate on the subject of the validity of Roman Catholic baptism in the PCUSA in the 1840s, something that gave him considerable time and cause to think out his position on this matter in great depth. I suggest that you read John Tallach’s booklet, A Plea Against Extremism, which deals with this issue. Tallach writes:—

‘The view that the R.C. Church forms no part of the Christian Church and that baptism performed within it is to be disregarded as invalid was, for Hodge, a view in conflict with the Scriptures and with the Confession of Faith. It was also “at variance with all previously adopted principles and usage” in the Reformed Church; “in opposition to the principles of the whole Protestant world”.

Hodge believed … that “the cause of Protestantism suffers materially from the undiscriminating denunciations heaped upon the Church of Rome, and from transferring the abhorrence due to her corruptions to her whole complicated system of truth and error.” In fact, ironically, he felt that those who fanatically distanced themselves from everything connected with the R.C. Church were to some extent showing the spirit of Popery themselves.

Hodge was alarmed as he wondered where this movement was leading — the movement begun by those who had got the Assembly of his church to pronounce Romish baptism invalid. He thought that, if applied consistently to other defective churches, these attitudes would lead to the point where “we shall have to unchurch almost the whole Christian world: and the Presbyterians, instead of being the most catholic of churches, admitting the being of the church wherever we see the fruits of the Spirit, would become one of the narrowest and most bigotted of sects.”

Now consider this information about Rev. John Tallach and his booklet in the October 1999 issue of FP Magazine at http://www.fpchurch.org.uk/EbBI/fpm/1999/October/article9.htm  :



“It will be remembered that the Rev John Tallach was one of the chief spokesmen for the APCs in 1989 and an apologist for those who saw no harm in attending requiem masses. Extremism was what he was against and he wrote a booklet entitled "A Plea against Extremism" in which, among other things, he endorsed the Church of Rome as a Church of Christ. He has now placed himself in an extreme position far removed from what he preached and practised as a young Free Presbyterian minister. When he preached in the Cromarty Parish Church on Sabbath, 1st August (after which the congregation was to determine his election as their minister), worshippers were informed in the "Order of Service" leaflet that their minister-elect was seeking "a broader outlook & greater flexibility and understanding in his Ministry and believes that he will achieve this within the Church of Scotland." We thought that the APCs were set up for this purpose! The Church of Scotland is broad enough with its women ministers and elders (the Cromarty Session Clerk is a woman); its use of organs, hymns and paraphrases in public worship and its toleration within its ministry of men who deny the virgin birth and even the uniqueness of Christ as the alone Saviour of the lost. We ask ourselves: how can it be possible for anyone brought up within the bosom of the Free Presbyterian Church to feel at home in that environment?”


What has happened here is that Rev. John Tallach has made illogical deductions from a true fact (i.e., the Romish Church is in a sense part of the visible Christian Church, as is the current Church of Scotland).  In turn, to fight against this sinful direction of Rev John Tallach, some in the FPCS have been tempted to view the Romish Church as in no sense part of the visible Christian Church, and hence to embrace a catabaptist position.  Thankfully though, the FPCS as a church has not adopted catabaptism, and by God’s grace never will.  The Lord has wonderfully preserved the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (FPCS) from the error of toleration of Mass attendance.  The FPCS took a morally appropriate position in disciplining Lord Mackay for his unrepentant attendance at a requiem Mass.  My prayer is that the FPCS, in rightly avoiding the error of toleration of such a sin, may continue not to succumb to the error of catabaptism, in over-reaction to the Lord Mackay case.  We must avoid errors of the right and left, and march as those covenanted to the Biblical doctrines summarized in the Westminster Standards.


Note: For more information on this issue, please refer to the article at http://www.puritans.net/news/catabaptism091905.htm .