November 16, 2015

Head Above Water: a Primer on Pedobaptist Discussions

by Clint Archer

Southern Africa’s theological landscape is immersed in the heritage of the Reformers. A tide of persecution in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries washed legions of harassed French Huguenots and Dutch Calvinists up on the shores of the Cape of Good Hope. Their theology was understandably soaked with covenantalism and its most distinctive mark—infant baptism.baby under water

Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists are all well established denominations in South Africa. The practical implication for a Baptist pastor like myself is that almost everyone who wants to join our church—old and new believers alike—inquires about why we don’t recognize their infant baptism.

I’d like to piggy-back on Jordan’s excellent post from last week, and offer a primer to help frame the discussion you may have with someone who wants all this explained to them.

This eon-old debate is very nuanced and complicated, and unlikely to be settled by one discussion unless the person is already predisposed to change their view. But this is a primer for the discussion. The following five points are not an exhaustive treatise, but may help keep your head above water in the discussion.

The Meaning.  The meaning of the rite as presented in Scripture is not as a sign of a covenant, but as a sign of death to an old life and rebirth to a new life. Baptism signifies an inclusion into the universal Church.

Romans 6: 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

This meaning makes no sense when it is performed on an unbeliever, especially one who is too young to have an “old life” or consent to the declaration of death to it.

 

The Model.  Jesus is our model for baptism. He came to John to be baptized and John refused. Baptism was a rite of conversion of Gentiles to Judaism. Submitting to John’s baptism as a Jew was admitting “I’m as bad as a godless Gentile who needs to convert to the true religion of Judaism.” It was humiliating. So when Jesus, the only sinless Jew, arrives for his baptism, John is understandably perplexed. But Jesus insists that it is needed to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). Jesus never made a command for us that he wasn’t willing to submit himself to. (When someone is reluctant to be baptized for reasons of embarrassment or inconvenience, I emphasize this point.)

 

The Method.  The method of baptism in the Bible is always full immersion.

  • The word “baptidzo” means immerse.
  • The practice of the Jews was a full immersion in their mikvahbaths.
  • John the Baptist used the Jordan “for there was much water there.”
  • Philip was capable of sprinkling the Ethiopian Eunuch with drinking water, but immersed him when they came to a pool.

To be consistent, pedobaptists should fully dunk their babies (and some do). But the fact that almost all of these denominations have felt the need to reinvent the immersion method of Scripture is a case for the assertion that the whole practice should be questioned.

Another important aspect of their change in the method of baptism is to add the rite of confirmation. Confirmation is necessary to differentiate between baptized unbelievers and baptized believers. This is a hugely important scaffold to hold up their system, and yet it is entirely absent from the Bible. The more one tampers with the method presented in the Scriptures, the more suspect the system is shown to be.

 

The Missing verses.  There is no verse in the Bible that says babies or any unbelievers were baptized into the Church. This is an important difference from circumcision into the nation of Israel, which was at times performed on unbelieving adults and all male Israelite babies.

I’m not making an argument from silence here (yet), I’m challenging the notion that the references to households being baptized is evidence of infants receiving the rite. Households can just as easily consist entirely of people old enough to hear and respond to the gospel.

In the case of the famed Philippian jailer, the text actually says that Paul spoke the word of truth to him and his whole household before they were baptized. The implication is that they all responded.

Acts 16: 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

Now for the argument from silence, which is a deafening silence if you ask me: in all of Paul’s many diversions into the obsolescence of circumcision, guess how many times he mentions that baptism is the replacement?

* crickets*

So, the pedobaptists would have us believe that the most obvious and important and argument-winning lynchpin of Paul’s whole point he never mentions even once? Let that sink in.

 

The Misunderstanding. By this point in the discussion it becomes necessary to explain the major misunderstanding that begets the need for a sign of the covenant. The way God dispensed saving grace to the world from the time of Abraham til Jesus—the Old Covenant—was by blessing the nation of Israel. Israel didn’t send missionaries, it was a kingdom of priests. If a Gentile wanted to worship the true God they joined the nation, as with Rahab and Ruth. The nation was blessed or cursed as a whole, and circumcision of your household’s males was the sign that you were a member of the nation, whether you and your household were faithful or unfaithful Jews.

But the Church under the New Covenant is not the same. The Church does not, by design, consist of a deliberate mix of unbelievers and believers. In fact, the NT says that when a person is unfaithful they need to be removed from the church (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:4-13).

The church is meant for believers only. But baptism is what brings you into the church. Baptizing a baby is baptizing an unbeliever into the church. In practice, confirmation is used to deal with this fly in the ointment. But again, one would expect that essential component of the system to be mentioned at least once, somewhere in the Bible. It’s not.

And church discipline would make no sense. Paul says in 1 Cor 5:10-11 that he’s not saying we must avoid associating with unbelievers, but “those who bear the name of brother,” i.e. baptized people.

This is merely an outline for the discussion. It’s not comprehensive, but if you find yourself thrown in the deep end of a debate, having to sink or swim, these five points should help you stay afloat. Please feel free to top up the discussion in the comments section.

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Pegmo

    Thank you Clint. We are currently attending a Reformed Church that is faithful to the Scriptures in many areas, but practices paedobaptism. The church is clear that paedobaptism is not salific. The issue really comes down to the nature of the New Covenant. Our church teaches that the New Covenant is the visible church, anyone sitting under the means of grace, including all children of believers. But Jeremiah 31 clearly teaches a new covenant unlike the old, one of internal change, rebirth, union with Christ and permanence. This view of the New Covenant as physical and not spiritual is one we can’t find scriptural support for. This view forces us to knowingly call unbelievers saints and is ripe for false hope for these children. Additionally, we no longer have the saved and unsaved, the sheep and the goats or those alive or dead to God, we now have a third category made up primarily of children that are treated as different from the children of unbelievers in some ‘limbo’ like category who are told God has promised to save them since they are in the visible church. Many have knowledge but no heart for Christ. We are know there are false professions by adults in the church, but it’s another thing to willingly baptize and bring in unbelievers and presume them to be of special status. It’s also a concern that the nature of the New Covenant is changed in a way that minimizes the work of Christ to establish it.

    • truefreedom

      The apostle Paul is very comfortable calling the children of believers “saints.” You should be comfortable with that, too.

      • Pegmo

        Could you point me to the scripture verses you are referencing TrueFreedom? That would be helpful. Thank you.

        • Jason

          1 Corinthians 7:14 is likely what he’s talking about (I stand corrected).

          I think it’s important to consider the significance of households in this discussion. A child of a believer can be considered set apart for the service of God (a saint) as long as they are under a believing parent, because that parent is, themselves, set apart for God.

          In that way, though not strictly a member of the church (and to say nothing of their salvation), a child of a believer could be considered a saint just as everything else under the stewardship of a believer could rightly be considered set apart for the service of God.

          The issue of the church including people who have made obvious their lack of desire to follow God is entirely larger than this, and a huge issue. I feel confident that this would include rebellious children who have no time for the God of their parents (although, so long as the parents are in authority over the children, this remains their responsibility to deal with).

          • But in the NT baptized people are always assumed to be professing believers, and when “saints” is used of a group people, it is always a group of believers. 1 Cor 7:14 is a household inlcuding at least one unbeliever, and isn’t teaching that children are saved if they are under a believing parent and unsaved if that parent is divorced from their partner.

          • Jason

            The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 7:14 for “holy” is often translated saints. We see that the children would be considered unclean if the believer leaves the family, but if they stay those same children are considered saints/holy.

            It would certainly be incorrect to say that because they are sanctified by the parent that they are saved, but a believing parent should offer their children, so far as they are part of that parent’s life, in service to God.

            It’s true that in the NT people were baptized with water to declare their new life (which these children may not have, thus making baptizing them a symbol wrongly applied) and that without new life we don’t enter the Kingdom of God.

            However, I’m not sold on the idea that the word “saint” must only be applied to believers. It could even be used to describe objects which have been specifically set apart for the service of God (say, the temple objects of the Old Testament).

            I would say dedication ceremonies that most congregations who don’t baptize children practice more accurately demonstrate the principle in view here.

          • Still Waters

            I had thought that in I Cor. 7:14 Paul was addressing a real situation that would occur when one parent would convert to Christianity and the other was still a pagan. The question would naturally arise whether the marriage was still valid. Paul is reassuring them that the marriage is valid and the children of that marriage are legitimate.
            The idea that the verse is proof that children of believers are somehow sanctified is problematic when one considers the preceding statement that “…the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife…”. I’m not aware of any pedobaptist assembly which also baptizes the unbelieving spouse of a believer.

          • Jason

            The point was that the word used here for “holy” is the same as the word used elsewhere for saints and the children are described as being such so long as the believer is in the family, thus possibly rendering some grounds for contesting the idea that children of believers have no unique status at all.

            I agree that an unbeliever should not be baptized based on their spouse (or parents, which is the point of this article). However, this section of scripture does seem to suggest that, in some sense, a familial relationship to a believer makes a person holy, though not in a sense that would also count them as believers.

        • truefreedom

          Compare Eph. 1:1 with Eph. 6:1-4. Paul addresses his letter to the saints who are at Ephesus. Then in chapter 6, he addresses the children of the church. Conclusion: the children are a subset of the saints.

          • Matt Waymeyer

            The key question in comparing Ephesians 1:1 and 6:1-4 involves the basis upon which Paul deems these children to be saints. Does he regard them to be saints because their parents believe in Christ or because they themselves believe in Christ? After all, the position of believer’s baptism is not that children cannot be saved, but rather that children should not be baptized apart from their own profession of faith in Christ.

            To answer this question, it is clear that the “saints” whom Paul addresses in Ephesians are regenerate, having believed the gospel and been forgiven of their sins (Eph 1:13–14; 2:1–10; 4:32). Therefore, when Paul addresses wives (5:22–24, 33b), husbands (5:25–33a), children (6:1–3), fathers (6:4), slaves (6:5–8), and masters (6:9) in his epistle to the Ephesians, he is addressing wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves, and masters who are regenerate. In other words, these individuals—the children included—have been saved by grace through faith and are considered saints because they believe in Christ, not because of a “covenant status” conferred to them by virtue of being born to Christian parents.

          • truefreedom

            Yours is an interpretation which ignores the entire biblical context. Paul is addressing Christian households in chapter six – fathers, mothers, children, servants. He freely calls them saints. So should you and me. You are not required to parse which five year old is regenerate and which not before you call them saints.

          • Matt Waymeyer

            In saying that Paul is addressing those who are regenerate, I don’t mean to imply that every professing believer in Ephesus was indeed born again. In writing his epistle, Paul takes their profession of faith at face value and therefore addresses the entire church as a believing and regenerate people, all the while recognizing that there are almost certainly hypocrites present and that most of what he writes does not apply to those individuals. But this doesn’t change Paul’s definition of “saints” as those who have experienced the spiritual blessings of Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:4-10.

          • truefreedom

            So Paul is addressing families in the church but he exempting the five year children of believer who have not yet been born again by the determination of the church? Paul’s letter is read in the Ephesian church and only the regenerated five year old are being instructed to obey their parents in the Lord? This is such an imposition on the text. It simply does not work with how the Bible speaks about covenant families.

          • Matt Waymeyer

            My argument is that Paul defines “saints” as
            those who have experienced the spiritual blessings of Ephesians 1:3-14 and
            2:4-10. Therefore, to be consistent in his argument, the paedobaptist should insist not
            only that the children of believers are “saints,” but also that they have been
            predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, made alive in Christ, etc. Some are willing to make that argument, but most are not.

          • truefreedom

            Well, the problem seems to be your definition of saints.

          • truefreedom, it might help to know that Dr Waymeyer, as a highly respected expert in hermenuetics is widely known as one who respects “the entire biblical context.” One needs to bring the context of the Old Covenant and New Covenant distinction to bear on this discussion, which is what Dr Waymeyer is doing.

          • truefreedom

            Well then, the entire biblical context demonstrates clearly to those who don’t have an axe to grind that children of believers belong to God’s covenant people which are known in Scripture as his holy people, i.e., the saints.

          • But the fact that he addresses children directly assumes they are of an age that can understand the epistle. Any child who can understand the gospel and responds, can be baptized. I’m talking about infants who are baptized even before the age they can understand the gospel.

          • truefreedom

            Ah, so you agree with three year olds being baptized? I don’t know of any baptist church doing that. Maybe I’ve been out of the loop too long.

          • Matt Waymeyer

            True Freedom, to come at this from a slightly different angle, maybe you can explain what you see wrong with this argument: “Compare Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:4-10 with Ephesians 6:1-4. Paul addresses his letter to those who have been predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, made alive in Christ, etc. Then in chapter 6, he addresses the children of the church. Conclusion: all the children of the church have been predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, made alive in Christ, etc.” Because that appears to be the very same reasoning used in your argument above.

          • truefreedom

            Paul addresses his letter to the believing people of God in Ephesus (or Colosse or wherever). This people is the new covenant people which includes children – just like in the older covenant. There is no change from the old covenant to the new covenant in regard to the place of the children in the covenant. Just like Israel of old was addressed in its collectivity as the saints of God or as the redeemed of the Lord or as those precious in his sight, so it is with the new covenant people. In their collectivity, they are called the saints of God and therefore it is not right to diminish the status of the children of believers by placing them outside the covenant people as though they were but pagans.

            A question for you: Can I teach my little ones to say “Our Father in heaven?” On what grounds can I do that if I don’t have “evidence” of their regeneration? Yet, most baptists I know teach their children to pray to God as their Father. Good for them. They are working with covenantal ideas even as they intellectually deny them.

          • Matt Waymeyer

            I’m trying to press you to think more carefully about how Paul defines “saints” in Ephesians. I know you disagree with my view that Ephesians defines “saints” as those who have experienced the spiritual blessings of Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:4-10, but you haven’t explained why; you’ve simply dismissed it as “the problem.” In your comment above, you wrote: “In their collectivity, they are called the saints of God and therefore it is not right to diminish the status of the children of believers.” In light of this, would you agree with this argument: “In their collectivity, they are said to have been predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, and made alive in Christ, and therefore it is not right to diminish the status of children by denying that they’ve been predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, and made alive in Christ”? If not, why not? Because, again, that appears to be the very same reasoning you’ve been using all along.

          • truefreedom

            I guess we’re both trying to make each other think more carefully about defining things. You don’t want to deal with the way the term saints is used in the OT and NT as a reference to God’s covenant people. You just evade the point because it leads to places you don’t want to go.

            Yes, I do think it is correct to refer to covenant community in its collectivity as saints, that is, as those chosen, redeemed, forgiven etc. Baptists do this also. They refer to the baptized people of God in their collectivity as saints, as elect, as redeemed etc, even though they must realize that there are hypocrites among the baptized.

          • Matt Waymeyer

            If you made a biblical argument for how the term “saints” is used in the OT and NT, somehow I missed it. But if you are interested in how I would respond to the broader theological arguments made by paedobaptists, some of which you’ve alluded to, Google my name along with “A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism,” and that will take you to a resource you might find helpful.

            With regard to your response to my question, just to clarify, when an infant is baptized, you are affirming not only that he is a “saint,” but also that he has been predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, and made alive in Christ? I realize there are different strains of thought within paedobaptist theology, and if this is your view I would at least commend you for your consistency, but I would certainly have some follow-up questions! None of which I have time to ask today, however, so I will leave you with the final word.

          • truefreedom

            I am affirming that in our ecclesiastical discourse and pulpit address we address the whole covenant community as saints which in both OT and NT means chosen, called, adopted, redeemed, forgiven and made alive in Christ. This is really the same as Baptists do: they address the entire baptized community as God’s redeemed people even though they know not all of them are true believers.

          • Jason

            The Old and New Testament includes children in the same way. However, not all people born in Israel were considered included in the OT either (John 8:39, Matthew 3:9, etc…)

            In fact, the hypocrites that were discerned were dealt with much more harshly in the OT. Often, those who were severely unrepentant were supposed to be stoned and if the whole community had strayed mass oppression and death followed until only God’s remnant remained.

            An unbeliever, under the NT, shouldn’t be treated without grace. Instead, we are to pray for them to be saved (Romans 10:1), present the gospel to them, and, when in authority over them, use that authority to the glory of God.

            I hope that’s exactly how you treat children who have not yet placed their faith in Christ, and more fervently because those children are your responsibility in a way no other person is.

            However, baptism is intended to demonstrate that the person has died to self and been raised to life in Christ (Romans 6:4). Obviously, our discernment isn’t perfect, and the church has always had hypocrites (1 John 2:19). However, that doesn’t mean we should go around dunking everyone without their expressed desire, thus making hypocrites of everyone.

            That doesn’t mean that children of believers shouldn’t be uniquely cared for by the church. However, that should be on behalf of the believing parents more than some concept of birthright.

          • truefreedom

            You are quite right. Not all children in Israel were really Israel. That’s something Moses makes quite clear. We didn’t have to wait for the NT to figure that out. Nonetheless, the children of Israel were circumcised and since circumcision is a seal of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4), that’s really saying something, isn’t it? So did the Lord in the old dispensation make hypocrites of everyone by having them all circumcised in infancy? I should think not.

          • Jason

            Circumcision was a lot like most of the OT rituals. The purpose was to serve as a constant reminder to the people of spiritual truths. A baby who was circumcised became an adult who carried around the reminder.

            Baptism serves as a sign to others of a reality of what has happened in the life of the believer. Unless you baptize in some sort of acid, I doubt it serves as a reminder of anything for the baby. It may, however, serve to confuse those witnessing the ritual as to what relationship the child has to the church.

          • truefreedom

            To remain a baptist, you have to say what you say about circumcision. But it is not what Paul or Moses said about circumcision.

          • Jason

            I have no concern with “remaining a Baptist” but only the best for the church, which isn’t going to be done by clinging to labels, traditions, or emotional appeals.

            So long as you can say the same for your position it only seems fair that you not jump to conclusions about where others are coming from.

          • truefreedom

            No jumping to conclusions, only dealing with what you said which was a diminishing of what Scripture says about the spiritual meaning of circumcision – something which baptists do a lot in my extensive dialogue with them over many years.

          • Jason

            I don’t disagree with what you stated is the spiritual significance, only the intended audience. Circumcision is clearly not a matter of public display. Baptism, on the other hand, does not leave a lasting sign on the participant, but is intended as a pledge of their clear conscience before God (1 Peter 3:21).

          • KPM

            Actually, Baptism saves us as a pledge of good conscience toward God. If we’ve been baptized, we can have a good conscience before God, because we can cling to the promises of God in baptism.

            If we have not been baptized, we can look to our subjective faith and question if it was really, truly, really sincerely real, or if just maybe it wasn’t.

            Baptism saves as the pledge of a good conscience before God. It’s not “intended as a pledge of their clear conscience before God.” Quit injecting your subjectivity into the objective promises of God.

          • KPM

            Where in the Bible does it say that baptism is meant as a sign or testimony of an inner reality?

            It doesn’t.

            Where does it say that baptism is a public profession of a person’s faith?

            It doesn’t.

            When you explain away what the bible says about baptism, you either need to get rid of it entirely, or find some other reason to keep it a part of your tradition.

            It seems to me that the credobaptist has to do a lot of creative and extrabiblical reasoning to justify their position. Their arguments simply are not found in scripture.

          • KPM

            Hi Jason. Please read Romans 6 again. Does it say that baptism is INTENDED TO DEMONSTRATE (I’m not yelling, just emphasizing) that a person has died to self and has been raised with Christ?

            Or…

            Does it say that believers are actually baptized into Christ?

            The “intended to demonstrate” part seems to be a fairly new invention and it doesn’t seem exegetical to me. It seems to take the focus off of God’s work in baptism and instead puts the focus on our work in “publicly identifying” with Christ.

            Also, how often in the New Testament are baptisms done in a large public setting? If baptism is “publicly identifying with Christ,” then why is it often done in a close and personal setting?

          • Jason

            I apologize for the confusion. In the context of the conversation my
            citation of Romans 6 was intended to demonstrate that baptism was
            tied to a person having died to self and being raised to life in
            Christ, not to prove in what manner those things were related.

            Romans
            6 is certainly talking about a “baptism” that saves but water immersion
            is one of many reminders and demonstrations God has given us of the
            spiritual truth of that reality, and not an incantation given to man
            with which we can force the work of God in a person’s life.

            The sequence is probably best demonstrated in Acts 10 when the first gentile family is sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit(Ephesians 1:13) and, as a result, Peter said that surely nobody would object to them being immersed in water.

            There are also cases where a person was saved without ever undergoing the ritual of water immersion at any point before death.

          • KPM

            Didn’t John the Baptist leap in the womb of Elizabeth when he heard the greeting of Mary? Didn’t David trust in the Lord while at his mother’s breast?

            Does faith (or trust) necessarily mean a precise understanding of the details of the faith?

            It seems to me, from the scriptures, that a general knowledge of God is inherent in all men and that it is possible for God to produce saving trust in an infant prior to that infant’s ability to understand the precise details of gospel.

            That’s why infants ought to be baptized. God gives faith and new life in baptism. That faith must be nurtured or it will die (hence the need for catechises and confirmation). See Hebrew 6 for an instance in the scriptures where it clearly teaches that a man can lose his salvation. Same goes for an infant.

      • Frank Turk

        What always worries me about this way to read 1Cor 7:14 is its rather unsubstantial reading of the word “ἅγιος”. In the first place, no translation in English says they are “saints,” but rather that they are “holy.” This may sound like a quibble, but you wouldn’t do that in Mark 6:20, or Luke 2:23, or of Luke 4:3, or Acts 3:14 and so on. Doing it here is somewhat precious.

        In the second place, even if it means “holy ones” in the sense you mean, let me suggest to you that it doesn’t therefore mean “baptized” because, and Clint is clever enough to point out below, the problem here is how to treat the children of an unbeliever who has a believing parent — not how to read their baptism. That is: they are not the ones at fault, therefore they are not the one to doubt or discredit.

        Last, why don’t the paedos ever actually address the problem they face in doing what they do – namely, the problem of “confirmation.” It’s nice to say, for example, that us credos have somehow forgotten that we sometimes baptize false professors, but let’s be clear: you always do. Every time you baptize an infant, you do something which has no correspondence to faith but only to systematic interpolation of something God doesn’t promise to do (namely: to save any unbeliever). And that you sort of wait it out to see if the baptism “took” until the child can be made to recite parts of the catechism doesn’t really get it either.

        Sorry. this is good stuff by Clint, and you cats with damp infants need to start being more serious about it.

        • truefreedom

          Frank, this good stuff by Clint has nothing new in it all; it’s the same arguments used already for centuries by the Anabaptist movement. You seem focused on the issue of baptizing “false professors” and insist that while this may happen in baptist circles it always is the case among paedo-baptists. Sounds like a strong argument but God commanded his old covenant people to apply the seal of the righteousness of faith to all their male infant children. So if you want to frame this issue in terms of “false professors,” then blame God. Which I don’t think you want to do …

  • Bbv mck

    Our Lord Commands us in Matthew7 15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits.

    Doesn’t it make believing paedobaptists even a little bit nervous that all the apostate forms of Christianity practice infant baptism? (Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, Liberal Protestants: Lutherans, Calvinists, Presbyterians, Methodists, et al.)

    Wouldn’t it be better to do what Jesus did? He blessed the little children, he did not baptize them. Later, as the children grow you make disciples of them like Jesus did with the 12 apostles and let the Holy Spirit do His work of regeneration and only then baptize them. This is a lot longer process and by no means a sure thing but it is God’s way to convert a child.

    • truefreedom

      What a strange argument and how unrefined. Are you really ignorant of the phenomena of liberal baptists? Are you not aware of the radical compromises of the whole baptist movement in America? Why is that we have a predominantly Anabaptist christian presence in America and yet it seems to have so little in the way of salting influence? Why are America’s Christians so similar to their culture? Please don’t blame it all on pope or on infant baptism. This is primarily a baptist problem.

      • Bbv mck

        I apologize for being unrefined. I am not so much a Baptist apologist as a non-denominational believer who is trying grasp how the great historical Protestant Churches of the Reformation and the Great Awakening, in a little over 100 years, have completely overthrown and eradicated the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their denominations. The only explanation l see consistent throughout church history is that baptism before a profession of faith leads to ruin for the church that practices it. Eventually the majority in the church is unconverted and the congregations cease to be the Bride of Christ and the Lord spits them out of his mouth.

        • truefreedom

          Don’t apologize for being unrefined but aspire to become more refined. The “only explanation” you can see is far-fetched and shows the need for further growth in knowledge. History doesn’t usually allow for “only explanations.”

          • Bbv mck

            The same thing happened with the puritans and the Anglicans after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Both the Establishment and non-conformists were satisfied with a secure protestant Great Britain and stopped preaching the Gospel. It was considered rude. Of course everyone was a Christian, they were baptized weren’t they. It took 50 years and the Great Awakening to revive the church to what it should be. It wasn’t infant baptism that made the people alive spiritually. It was Whitefield, Edwards and the Wesley’s, et al. preaching the gospel that turned the 18th century upside down.

          • truefreedom

            I think some of the most fervent gospel preaching I know of comes from churches that confess and practice infant baptism. As I said earlier, your explanations are simplistic.

    • KPM

      Wow! You include Anglican, Lutherans, Calvinists, Presbyterians, and Methodists in your list of apostate churches!?!

      So, if people don’t believe exactly what you believe then they are apostates?

      • Bbv mck

        Which one of those mainline denominations does not bless same sex marriages? Which denomination does not have openly gay clergy? Which denomination opposes abortion on demand?

        None of them oppose these evils. They celebrate them in the name of freedom.

        When Jesus confronted the apostate Pharisees he exposed their sins. The Pharisees unwillingness to repent only confirmed Jesus’ verdict. I rest my case.

  • Frank Turk

    I wanted to write a comment about this beautiful post, but I think I have something in my eye …

  • KPM

    I think what often gets overlooked in the discussion of infant baptism is the Lutheran view of baptism. The Reformed “new circumcision” view is generally covered, which is good because that view comes from the scriptures. Contrary to Clint’s assertion, Paul actually did make the connection between baptism and circumcisions.

    11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    Notice, the circumcision of Christ IS baptism. In baptism, Christian’s are passively buried into Christ and put off the body of the flesh.

    However, what is often missing from the discussion is the Lutheran view of baptismal regeneration. 1 Peter 3:21 says that baptism saves us. In Acts 2:38, Peter tells the Jews listening to his gospel-proclamation that they can be saved by repenting and being baptized, for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus tells us in John 3 that a man must be born of water and the Spirit in order to see the Kingdom of God. Romans 6 and Galatians 3 teach that we are baptized (passively) into Christ, and therefore can be confident that we will be raised with him.

    If we hold to a sacramental theology, as the Church Fathers did, as Luther did, as Wycliff and Hus did, than we must acknowledge that God’s visible Word in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means of grace, just as the proclamation of the gospel. If God gives grace through baptism, if Triune baptism unites a person to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, as the scriptures teach, then why would we not baptize our children? If Triune baptism gives regeneration and the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t we want to give those things to our children?

    It’s also quite a jump to assume that, in the 6 different New Testament occasions where a “household” is baptized, none of those households included small children, especially in the ancient world where a household included multiple generations, and people tended to have more children than we do today. Sure, the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that children were baptized, but it doesn’t say that they skipped over the children either. You can either assume that they had no children in their households, or you can assume that they did. In the ancient world, which was more likely the case?

    This has been the teaching of the church throughout the ages. Not consistently and in every place, but as a general rule this is what the church has taught regarding infant baptism.

    Lutheranism is a wonderful tradition because they seek to continue the traditions of the church so far as those traditions do not contradict the scriptures. They don’t read scripture in a vacuum, they look to the Church Fathers who were personally taught by the disciples as well as their successors as a guide to help understand the scriptures. Yes, yes, Sola Scriptura, but let’s not throw out 2,000 years of hermenuetics and start interpreting the scriptures in vacuum. That’s the primary error that baptists make. They’re right in holding to Sola Scriptura, but sadly mistaken in ignoring church history.

    I mean, how many of the eucumenical creeds can a baptist actually recite on Sunday morning? These are the creeds that have been developed throughout history as a litmus test for orthodoxy. If you can’t say these with full agreement, is your theology orthodox?

    The Apostles Creed says, “He descended into hell”… nope, Baptists don’t believe that!

    The Nicene Creed says, “One baptism for the forgiveness of sins”… nope, Baptists don’t believe that! Baptism doesn’t “forgive sin,” it’s an outward sign of an inward reality, or it’s a good work that we do to “publicly identify with Christ.”

    The Athanasian Creed says, “descended into hell”…again, nope!

    Yet the modern Reformed Baptists like to claim that they teach nothing new, and nothing novel. Hmmm…

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