Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Question for Paedobaptists

How can infant baptism be considered the more biblical position when there is not a single example of it anywhere in scripture?

28 comments:

Jameson Graber said...

Is there a single example in Scripture of a child growing up in the church and having his baptism postponed?

The Seeking Disciple said...

I see in Matthew 28:19-20 that Jesus said that we were to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them all that He had taught His disciples so how is that infants?

Did Paul or any of the other Apostles demand baptism for infants in the Epistles? While baptism does appear, it never calls for infants. Only believers.

Nathan said...

"Did Paul or any of the other Apostles demand baptism for infants in the Epistles? While baptism does appear, it never calls for infants. Only believers."

That's not entirely true. Whole households were baptised when the head of the house converted. I assume that as children were members of a household they too were baptised.

I'd suggest there's a link to covenantal theology too - since it essentially replaces circumcision in the new covenant it seems like you could build an argument from the Old Testament.

And, I'd suggest, that most cases Christian parents bring up their children as Christians, not as a blank slate - unless you want to side with Richard Dawkins who suggests children have no religion. At that point a Christian child who decides not to continue in the faith of their parents makes a decision to walk away from, rather than a decision to enter God's family...

A combination of those three factors is why I'm ok with paedobaptism. Plus, I reckon Paul would have been, if he had wanted to work in a paedobaptist church in order to spread the gospel (see his approach to circumcision - essentially, do it if it helps the gospel be proclaimed).

Since there's nothing against infant baptism in the Bible my question is "why do we make this a significant issue at all"... there'd have to be something explicitly against infant baptism in the Bible for me to stop thinking of children of believers as believers until they say otherwise.

Lee Shelton IV said...

Nathan, the only problem with the "whole household" argument is that, in every instance, the gospel had been preached and the baptisms were in response to hearing and believing. I think that would exclude infants.

Part of my issue has to do with a sermon I heard several years ago from a Reformed pastor (whose name I can't recall) who used Luke 18:16 as a proof-text for infant baptism. He basically went on to say that those who don't baptize infants are violating scripture.

However, I recently listened to R. C. Sproul speak on the subject, and he made the most compelling argument I've ever heard for paedobaptism. It at least made theological sense, so much so that I would side with John Piper in not wanting to exclude someone baptized as an infant from membership in a Baptist church.

Phil said...

Well that line of covenant thinking makes sense...
Unless of course baptism doesn't replace circumcision as is asserted, and that baptism already has a critical association with faith that gets broken when we associate it with babies.

Journal T. Living said...

God makes choice, not man.

chalee said...

I understand you modern, western guys talking about how it might theoretically be possible for every single member of the "baptized households" in the NT to be of some supposed age of accountability. Individualism is the language of our culture.

But for a pharisee like Paul, who had Genesis 17 memorized backwards and forwards, to casually talk about baptizing "households" without the potential parallel to circumcision even crossing his mind...? I can't see it. I think you're imposing your cultural expectations on the text.

God dealt with households in the OT. The 1st century jews pitched an absolute fit over the changes in the food laws and including gentiles qua gentiles in the people of God...yet there is nothing in the NT about their circumcised children being presumptively excluded from the community of faith? Awfully unlikely...especially as those children were subject to the same commandment to honor their parents (Eph6) as OT children.

Why would there need to be a specific example of infant baptism in the NT if we have the OT? Would the jews really not have understood “household” in the abrahamic sense? If there were such a radical break from the OT as you propose, I would think an exclusion would be necessary. It took peter at least 3 corrections (Mark7:19; Acts10; Gal2) to let go of the food laws...but you assume he immediately "got" that kids were excluded going forward? Peter still seemed to think the promise got wider and not narrower:

Gen17:7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Acts2:39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.


Sure, there is a risk that some baptized as infants will see that as salvational just as external circumcision was misunderstood. Phil points out that baptism has a “critical association with faith” – but what about circumcision?

Deut30:6 The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

Rom2:28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.


Faith was and is the mark of Abraham’s descendants – that they have soft, circumcised hearts. (Gal3:7) So if you believe God was mistaken to command that babies be marked with a sign of faith that they had yet to be able to demonstrate, say so openly. For that matter, external baptism didn't guarantee anything for the 1cor5 guy if there was no evidence of internal washing. Baptism has no “association” with faith that circumcision does not. And if a gentile wanted to unite with the jews in worshipping God, they had the option of taking the covenant sign as adults (just as many adults did in the NT with baptism).

Exod12:48A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.

If baptism doesn't replace circumcision as the covenant sign, what does?

But if you are determined to hold some sort of an "age of accountability" as the "scriptural" guide for minimum age of baptism, wouldn't it be more like 20 years old (num14:29) or 30 (WWJD)? To baptize an 8 or 10 year old – when there is no example of children or even teenagers being baptized in the bible - and yet be willing to separate over paedobaptism strikes me as hypocritical. (And I was brought up in the credo system and baptised at 10.)

-Charles

chalee said...

BTW, is there a "single example in scripture" of a woman taking communion?

Jesus only invited the fellas to the last supper and Paul addressed the "brothers" when problems cropped up in Corinth (1Cor11), right?

Curious how consistent your standard is...

-Charles

Josh Gelatt said...

The chief problem with the padeobaptist view (other than its complete and total lack of direct scriptural support), is its failure to recognize the difference between the Old and New Covenant.

They appeal to the Old Covenant practice of circumcising children, but refuse to recognize that the New Covenant is the circumcision of the heart--at least they refuse to allow the inherent difference to impact their view on baptism.

Physical circumcision was meant to be an external indicator that one sided with God, but as the Bible later made crystal clear, it was never about physical circumcision, but rather internal (heart) circumcision. The New Covenant, by contrast, does away with the physical externals.

I appreciate that my padeobaptist friends wish to apply the covenant. Though they sometimes go by the name "Covenant Theologians" (a related, but different discussion), in reality they seem to miss the main heart-beat of the New Covenant--at least as it applies to baptism.

While I cherish my padeobaptist brethren, this is a serious error which ultimately undermines the Gospel. It is just as serious and damaging as anything in the seeker-sensitive movement, and sadly is a nothing more than a left-over from the ritualism of medieval Catholicism. Dever correctly notes that the Reformed position of infant baptism was never seen in the history of the church prior to the 1500s. It was invented simply because they were unwilling to let go of a deep seated Catholic practice.

We all have our blind spots, I suppose. It took a further progression of the Reformation before people would be willing to let Scripture once again become the sole guide to this issue--which commands and gives examples of only credobaptism.

In essence, padeobaptists radically REDEFINE baptism by applying it to a child who may (or may not) ultimately be one of God's elect. Worse yet is the view that they ARE God's elect simply because they were baptized and/or born to Christian parents. If they admit it doesn't automatically make them one of God's elect, then by what authority are they applying a sign of a believer to someone who has not believed? As I said, these are serious (and ultimately Gospel-undermining) issues.

Josh Gelatt said...

Charles,

Yes, there is an example of women taking communion. Though Paul uses the term 'brothers' in 1 Cor 11, the larger context demonstrates Paul was including women in the conversation. He had just addressed issues with them, and the context of these chapters is problems related to corporate worship.

Also, they way the term 'brothers' is used consistently throughout the New Testament is inclusive of men and women. So, a double "yes" to your question---as context and word-usage makes clear.

You know this (I assume), so your argument is a bit of a strawman. I know they are fun to beat up, but since they are made of straw it gets boring after a while, and eventually you'll realize you've done no harm to the real opponent. :o)

chalee said...

"They appeal to the Old Covenant practice of circumcising children, but refuse to recognize that the New Covenant is the circumcision of the heart. Physical circumcision was meant to be an external indicator that one sided with God..."

As I've shown and you've failed to interact with, it was always about "circumcision of the heart." Yet God commanded in Gen17 that infants who had not demonstrated any internal/heart evidence should nevertheless be marked externally, simply as a result of being in Abraham’s household. How would an 8-day-old indicate that he wanted to “side with God?”

"The New Covenant, by contrast, does away with the physical externals."

Baptism sure seems "external." And it seems essential enough to the covenant that you would break fellowship over it.

"...they seem to miss the main heartbeat of the New Covenant."

Jer31:31-34. Got it.

So was this new covenant entirely fulfilled in the NT or are we still waiting to some degree? Can I ask you any bible verse and you can quote it verbatim because it is "written on your heart?" Do you truly go to a church where no teaching takes place?

It’s much more likely that this is pointing to the complete fulfillment of the new covenant, which is still in the “not yet” category. For example:

1Cor7:14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

Since the new covenant is all about the internal, how can the unbelieving spouse be “set apart” or “sanctified” in any sense merely by a marital connection to a covenant believer. The unbeliever isn’t “saved,” of course, but this kind of talk about being “unclean” or “holy” sounds like you might not want to throw away your OT just yet. A visible or external connection to the new covenant community still seems to count for something at this point. God still seems to be dealing with households.

“In essence, paedobaptists radically REDEFINE baptism by applying it to a child who may (or may not) ultimately be one of God's elect.”

So everyone baptized as an adult by creed is one of the elect? Have you never read Matt13:24-30? And as I said above, why would Paul point to the guy in 1Cor5 and ask that he be removed from the corporate fellowship? If baptism was applied to him, no need to worry whether he was shacked up with his step-mom.

Someone has redefined baptism here…you seem to regard it as an individual’s inviolable promise to God. But that’s not very bible-y.

“If they admit it doesn't automatically make them one of God's elect, then by what authority are they applying a sign of a believer to someone who has not believed?”

This would have been a great question to start with…not to end with. “Does baptism automatically make anyone one of the elect?” is a good question, for one. Also, since Rom4:11 tells us that Abraham “received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised,” then “why did God tell Abraham to apply the sign of circumcision to the infants in his household?” By what authority did Abraham apply the sign of a justified believer to one who had not (yet) communicated that they believe? And is that Authority sufficient for you?

So far you just seem to be parroting what you’ve heard. Think it through a little more. I was a little surprised at one point to find that “baptism is a public profession of faith” is not in the bible myself.

Josh Gelatt said...

Charles,

I had to laugh when I read this; "So far you just seem to be parroting what you’ve heard."

So, our your thoughts on this issue original? Nope, I've been hearing them for years

The fact remains that, for whatever reason, padeobaptists insist on applying baptism in the same manner as the old covenant applied circumcision--even though baptism is clearly identified with belief in Jesus Christ and the confession that he is Lord.

Baptism is an INDIVIDUAL's confession to God. That's not a Western, individualistic idea. That is a biblical idea. I might just as easily accuse padeobaptist of having a herd-mentality when it comes to salvation. No matter how you cut it, someone is a believer only if they confess Jesus as Lord. That happens to the individual--do you truly deny this? For all their talk against "Individualism", I've never had a Covenant/padeobaptist person deny they, as an individual, had faith in Christ. I can't do that for my kids, and they can't do it for me. Unless of course you are taking 1 Cor 7:14 to mean that the unbeliever spouse is granted salvation simply because he/she has a believing partner. That would be a terrifyingly gospel-denying interpretation, in my opinion. If we go there, let's also believe we can get baptized for the unsaved dead (doesn't that, if twisted out of context, also have biblical support)? If I am willing to baptized an infant who has not confessed Christ, why not one's unbelieving uncle who died of cancer--since salvation (as you say) shouldn't be considered 'individualistic'?

And you havn't answered the question "by what authority to you apply baptism to someone who has not confessed Christ as Lord?" You appealed to a DIFFERENT sign under a DIFFERENT covenant.

Covenant theologians readily see the inherent differences between the Old/New covenant on so many issues, but stubbornly refuse to see the difference on this issue. Circumcision was the external sign that one identified with God. And, as Scripture makes clear, the REAL intent was that the individual would truly (and internally) identify with God. God called out a specific and identifiable people-group (Jews). Certainly you would claim that one is not saved simply because he is a Jew. This wasn't true even in the OT times. They were commanded to be circumcised (e.g. identified as God's people), but salvation only became true of them if they had faith in God (cf Heb 11). So yes--I understand that salvation was always a heart issue (which you, oddly, seem to believe I don't understand)

By contrast, the Church is not an identifiable ethnic people group. The common denominator is FAITH, and faith-alone. By applying baptism to children who have not confessed faith in Christ, padeobaptists fall back into the same judaizing tendancies that Paul so zealously wrote against. Baptism has been redefined, and we've promised children something that God may not have given them--and frankly something they haven't asked for. Instead of being a wonderful symbol of faith in God, baptism has become a religious (almost magical) ritual. Frankly, when I hear many Reformed talk about the effect/purpose of infant baptism is sounds virtually identical to Catholicism. Calvin, who was so clear and precise in his writings, all of a sudden becomes vague and almost 'mystical'.

He defines baptism as: "the sign of the initiation by which we are received into the society of the church, in order that, engrafted in Christ, we may be reckoned among God's children".

Eh? So baptism is no longer a sign of professed faith in Christ, but now is reduced to church membership, which may eventually lead to one becoming a child of God)?

Again, the utter failure to see a difference between Old Covenant (based 'generally' on an ethnic people group, but more specifically on the truly faithful) and New Covenant (based on faith only) is mind-boggling.

Anonymous said...

It seems the core issue is how one defines two things: (1) Baptism and even more importantly (2) the Covenant community.

Is the New Covenant community made up of only those who have made a public confession of faith in Christ? That is, only those who are saved. (This definition does leave room for 'false professors' in the visible church, but it would say that though they appear to be in the Covenant community, in the eyes of God--who knows the heart of man--they are really not).

Or is the Covenant community broader than the saved/elect, as it was in Israel's day?

Now, baptism is certainly a sign for the covenant community. I don't think anyone doubts that. In the first definition, it is rightly only applied to those who profess faith in Christ. If the 2nd definition is true, then (assuming circumcision is an equivalent) there is at least some logic for applying it to children. But, one has to assume baptism/circumcision are equivalents to make this leap.

All in all, the first definition makes the most sense to me from Scripture. The way Christ and the Apostles speak about the church leaves no room (in my mind) for identifying the Covenant community with anyone other than professed believers.

While there will always be tares in God's wheat, it seems to me padeobaptism takes great pains to help tares thrive. I see the New Testament stressing the idea of a pure church.

chalee said...

“So baptism is no longer a sign of professed faith in Christ, but now is reduced to church membership, which may eventually lead to one becoming a child of God)?”

Your historical misunderstanding aside, baptism is a sign of faith in the same way that circumcision was. You imply that you place a higher value on your personal profession of faith than on God’s promises. Would that truly be a reduction of the perceived value of baptism for you?

"Unless of course you are taking 1Cor7:14 to mean that the unbeliever spouse is granted salvation..."

Anticipating this sort of nonsense, I spelled this out for you already. Please don’t be dishonest.

The point is that you only recognize categories of “saved” and “unsaved,” and thus seem ignorant of the concept of a “covenant.” As a result, you have no idea what this verse is talking about…nor 1Cor5.

If you understood the concept of the covenant community in the OT, you would better understand it when it is presented in the NT. The guy in 1Cor5 had been baptized and thus, one of the elect under your framework. Yet Paul dismisses the teaching of Jer31:34 (“they will all know me”) and says to “judge the church” and to “expel the wicked person from among you.” The visible church is the NT covenant community – yet there will still be some disobedient members who ought to be removed, just as they were under the old administration. (And the church IS supposed to be an identifiable group, though not in ethnic terms…and again I would point out that nonjewish adults could take the covenant sign and join the covenant people in the OT. Even if it was rare in practice, it was provided for.)

That’s why I brought up Jer31. I’m surprised you didn’t seem to understand. Most credos point to it as if it taught that the NT covenant people are exclusively in the “saved” category…that’s why you’d only baptize those who confess Christ, right? That’s why you’d equate baptism with election? I’m convinced Paul doesn’t see it that way.

Like it or not, the biblical category of “covenant people” includes both “saved” and “unsaved” until the second coming. That was the case in the OT and also in the NT. Some of the unsaved will remove themselves, some will need to be removed and some will remain intermingled until the judgment…but since Acts2 tells us that the promise continues to be for “us and our children” and the NT teaches the baptism of households, the bible teaches that our children are still to be included in the covenant community.

“So yes--I understand that salvation was always a heart issue (which you, oddly, seem to believe I don't understand).”

You simply don’t seem to have made the connection that being marked with the covenant sign (which Rom4:11 says was a sign and seal of justifying or “saving” faith) and therefore becoming part of the covenant community happened well BEFORE expressed faith for OT infants.

You seem to suggest that God’s covenant with Abraham was just some “ethnic” thing and not really about a relationship between God and His people...wherein God would reveal Himself through His Word. The jews were “a kingdom of priests…a holy nation…God’s treasured possession” and “a chosen people” where the church is totally different, right? (1Pet2; Eph2:11-19)

Your arguments seem to suggest that God “messed up” in the OT. You think He didn’t realize that they might mistake the sign with actual faith. You say that “Circumcision was the external sign that one identified with God” but continually gloss over the fact that the sign was applied to infants who could not express that identity. Are you embarrassed that God didn’t think it through well enough? So maybe the NT period was an opportunity to correct matters?

Inclusion in the visible covenant people of God does not equate one-to-one with salvation and it never has (not all Israel is true Israel). Faith was and is necessary for salvation. But children of covenant people were and are included in the visible covenant community unless new info has come up.

Anonymous said...

chalee, there really is no reason for being rude. This can, and should, be a discussion among brother. Calling people's comments "nonsense" or "parroting others" is demeaning, and not very Christ-like. Considering this is a discussion about salvation, how about we act like we are saved in the way we communicate.

Josh Gelatt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

In light of the original question, I often find myself highly suspicious of “doctrines” that require lengthy and convoluted explanations. What should be a simple “look at this verse” becomes a diatribe that emphasizes minutia.

Question: What does the Bible say about Jesus? Answer: Look at this verse…

Question: How does the Bible define the Gospel? Answer: Look at this verse…

Question: What does the Bible say about being a godly husband? Answer: Look at this verse…

Question: What does the Bible say about infant baptism? Answer: “Let me give you a long lecture about why all Christians must follow a practice that is never mentioned a single time in Scripture, and I’ll do it by appealing to an Old Testament custom that we were clearly and directly commanded to NOT practice as Gentile Christians.”

Hmmmm.

chalee said...

"Calling people's comments "nonsense" is not very Christlike..."

I've heard of not attacking people but now it's not "Christlike" to attack a comment? Do you think Jesus was very Christlike in Matt23?

In discussing 1Cor7:14, I stated clearly: "The unbeliever isn’t “saved,” of course."

The response was: "Unless of course you are taking 1 Cor 7:14 to mean that the unbeliever spouse is granted salvation simply because he/she has a believing partner."

Nonsense is a very nice word for that. Suggesting that someone believes something they have already thrown out as false seems less "Christlike" IMO.

Anonymous said...

chalee, so now a brother who doesn't believe in infant baptism is equated to a pharisee?

Brother, you are in sin. You're comments are filled with anger, judgmentalism, and pride. You're quick to insult and make accusations. Perhaps you don't realize how your coming across. I hope that is the case.

Let me put it this way, are your comments filled with love, peace, patience and gentleness? That is the standard for being Christ-like.

Personally, I would like to join this conversation, but I'm not sure I want to put up with the abuse you've given to others who have spoken up. Disagreement is fine, but please do it in a Christ-like way. After all, great men of the faith have disagreed on this issue.

- Bruce

chalee said...

@Jim

There is the school of thought that teaches that the bible is God's love letter to you in the 21st century. That it doesn't matter what "household" meant to Paul when he wrote it or how Peter's notion about "God's promise is for you and your children..." might have resonated at the time. It only matters how you understand it right now when you read it without any research or effort to understand the history, grammar or context of the statements.

I disagree with that. I suspect you don't like how i put it - fine - but how close is that to what you are saying? Often the interpretation is obvious, sure, but sometimes you might have to actually study to allow the bible to interpret itself.

Again, this is an issue that credobaptists divide over. Calling someone a "brother" and then refusing them church membership or barring them from sharing in the Lord's Table strikes me as double-talk. Before you are going to treat paedobaptists as you would a pagan, it at least makes sense to consider where they are coming from...(even if it means patiently sifting through a diatribe - is that really too much to ask?)...but if you're still confident that it couldn't possibly be biblical, then sure, break fellowship if your conscience is clean.

Josh Gelatt said...

Bruce, I know what you mean. I was quite surprised to find out that I place a higher value on my personal profession than God’s promises, equate baptism with election, am a mindless 'parrot', am ignorant of the covenant, and am dishonest. Wow! And I just thought I was a credobaptist…:o)

For the record, my point about 1Cor 7 wasn't to say that challe/charles actually believed the unbelieving spouse was saved (that would be heresy), but to point out that since he/she IS NOT saved that ultimately undermines challe's point about his definition of the covenant community.

Regarding the individualistic charge, I was pointing out that this is a red herring. It simply doesn’t work, since I’ve never met a Covenant theologian who denies that an individual must have Christ as his savior to be considered saved. When push comes to shove, they are just as “individualistic” as we are.

I am curious, though, how believing in a personal profession of faith in Christ MUST THEREFORE MEAN that I place greater value in that than in God’s promises. I haven't met a Christian who doesn't believe in personal profession of faith. Calvin did, Berkof did, Bavinck did, Sproul does.

Besides, God’s promises are to HIS PEOPLE--which are those who have professed faith in Christ (which, is of course, a work of God).

As for baptism/election, no credobaptist has ever “equated” the two. We simply believe that baptism is for those who place their faith in Christ. Certainly some have professed Christ dishonestly. Even the apostle John mentions those who have “went out from us because they were not part of us”. Seems they fooled (for a while) even an apostle. But dishonest confession is a far cry from no confession at all. Granting baptism to the one who (as it turns out) dishonestly confesses is a sin of the one who is dishonest. The people with whom God has a covenant (the Bride of Christ) have committed no sin. They are only guilty of taking someone at their word. But to pretend someone is part of the Bride, although that person has not made a confession of faith, is (I believe) a sinful thing to do. At the very least it is a serious, tragic error.

As you/anonymous (assuming your the same) pointed out, it seems to be a matter of definition. Credobaptists define the Covenant community as the true Bride of Christ. I wholeheartedly affirm that and believe it is the only teaching that squares with clear NT instruction and the only view that gets the "thrust" of the OT. God only has a saving relationship (covenant) with His chosen people. from a human point of view there may be tares, but from God's perspective His people are only the wheat. Remember, He is the Lord of harvest.

If you’re not saved, you’re not in a covenantal relationship with God. God didn’t “mess up” in the OT, anymore than the OT sacrificial system “messed up” until Christ “fixed it”. It was pointing to a greater, deeper, better reality. As the OT sacrificial system was pointing towards Christ, likewise the OT covenant community (ethnic Israel) was pointing towards the pure Church of Christ (true Israel). By granting ‘admission’ to infants, we might as well start sacrificing lambs again. It is going backwards in God's relationship with humanity.

If Christ is not reigning in the person’s heart, that person is not in a right relationship with God. That “right relationship” is the new covenant.

One of the sad ironies of church history is that the denomination that best championed sola fide (the Reformed community) is the same group that most seriously undermined sola fide with their insistence in retaining infant baptism.

Anonymous said...

Chalee,

You referred to Peter's comment in Acts 2:39 "...For the word of God is for you and for your children and for all those who are far off...".

Just out of curiosity, how do you take this verse?

First, what are the promises that he is referring to?

Second, does every person born to Christian parents get these promises?

Third, is every child born to Christian parents saved?

Option 1: Peter is simply saying that the Gospel is free and available for all who come to faith in Christ. If they do, they receive the promises of God (eternal life, God's presence, forgiveness of sins, etc).

Option 2: Peter is saying that all who come to faith in Christ, and all of their children (who will by necessity also eventually profess Christ), will receive the promises of God. In this case, Christian parents can rest assured that their children are saved.

Option 3: Peter is saying same as #2, but not saying the children will necessarily profess Christ, but will nevertheless receive the promises anyway.

Perhaps there is another option that you could offer. It does seem like you reject #1, which must mean you believe either #2 or #3. Please clarify. Are you really saying that all the children of Christian parents will receive all the promises of the Covenant? If not all, which ones do they get? Which ones do they not get?

Jim

Anonymous said...

By the way, I never said anything about rejecting fellowship with padeobaptists, barring them from membership/communion, treating them as pagans, or believing the bible is God's personal love letter to me.

Where in the world are you getting that from my earlier comment?

Jim

chalee said...

"chalee, so now a brother who doesn't believe in infant baptism is equated to a pharisee?"

Good heavens! I did not. What gave you that idea?

"Let me put it this way, are your comments filled with love, peace, patience and gentleness? That is the standard for being Christ-like."

Matt23 goes like this:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
...You blind guides!...“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?


It's not very "nice" is it? "patient, loving, gentle?"

That is all I'm saying. This baptism issue is not a gospel issue IMO (as that was in Matt23) and naturally I'm not using nearly that kind of language. There is no implication that "credos" are like the pharisees...merely the question of whether "Christlike" is a good synonym for "nice."

I took issue with someone who claimed I believed something I already denied - that is aggravating, i admit. I will try to look again but I think the rest of the "tone" is in your head.

We disagree on this baptism matter. In expressing my view I am not shocked to be told that my view is "unbiblical" or "a serious error which ultimately undermines the Gospel." That's part of the disagreement - none of that is personal - if you are going to panic if your view is critiqued in that sort of way, then it's better not to participate.

"After all, great men of the faith have disagreed on this issue."

Those "great men" who taught credobaptism would be welcome to join my church and share in the Lord's supper. I would consider them brothers.

OTOH, the "great men" on the paedo side would be treated like pagans at most baptist churches...

This is my biggest issue: that the credo side is so eager to divide over this issue.

Only secondarily will I posit that the OT seems like a logical place to learn about what a covenant people look like, what "household" means and what Peter was going for when he said "the promise is for you and your children" in hopes that maybe some credobaptists will at least consider whether this is actually a gospel issue - worth dividing over - or not.

Josh Gelatt said...

I will say that I sense many of your comments were personal jabs. I tried to let most of those go.

For my part, If I've come across as demeaning or insulting that was not my intent. I sincerely ask your forgiveness if I've come across less than charitable. I will search my heart on this matter.

I've already explained the intent of my Cor7 comment, which you seem to have missed and taken as an accusation. I apologize if the fault is with my wording.

I strongly disagree with you, but I am trying to accurately hear you. I don't sense I am being accurately heard, however. Your responses to me are filled mostly with sentences that begin with "seems like your saying...[fill in random nonsense here]". As I mentioned earlier, strawmen are fun to beat up--but ultimately don't really have much effect.

chalee said...

@josh
We cross posted a bit before I saw your comment. It bugged me since I had already addressed it. It's fine - if I cross the line again from "direct" to a personal attack, point it out.

"I was quite surprised to find out that I place a higher value on my personal profession than God’s promise." was cf. “So baptism is no longer a sign of professed faith in Christ, but now is REDUCED (emph added) to church membership, which may eventually lead to one becoming a child of God)?”

Abraham marked his infants based not on their personal profession but on God's promises. Reformed folk today baptize their infants in a parallel manner - understanding that God's promises to us in our helpless state are what we must rely on. His promises are central to the reformed understanding of infant baptism.

You have since added this: "As the OT sacrificial system was pointing towards Christ, likewise the OT covenant community (ethnic Israel) was pointing towards the pure Church of Christ (true Israel). By granting ‘admission’ to infants, we might as well start sacrificing lambs again."

If you claim that the credobaptist understanding that focuses on the individual's profession is in some "higher" position relative to the "reduced" reformed position stated above, which has something to do with "might as well sacrifice lambs again..." then I'm not following you. In this case you clearly place a "higher value on your personal profession" and you should own that. (Not that you place "no" value on God's promises but where baptism is concerned, it's not the emphasis as it is in the paedo view. It can't be.)

"If you’re not saved, you’re not in a covenantal relationship with God."

Are you saying this was true in the OT or is this NT only?

"The people with whom God has a covenant (the Bride of Christ) have committed no sin. They are only guilty of taking someone at their word. But to pretend someone is part of the Bride, although that person has not made a confession of faith, is (I believe) a sinful thing to do...Credobaptists define the Covenant community as the true Bride of Christ."

Are you talking about OT Israel here or the NT Church? You realize the bride language was first applied to OT Israel...the same Israel that covenantally marked and included their babies prior to their ability to confess faith?

A similar comment came from another above: "I see the New Testament stressing the idea of a pure church." I simply don't get that you all can read the OT without getting the notion that God similarly stressed the purity and faithfulness of Israel. If you look at Paul's "purge the evil person from among you" in 1Cor5, you would see that there are numerous OT referents. The notion of a pure covenant people is not new to the NT. You are trying to address the change from the OT to the NT, but it looks faulty to me as you seem to be missing all the continuity.

But that's where things fall apart in this discussion. I know.

@jim
"By the way, I never said anything about rejecting fellowship with padeobaptists, barring them from membership/communion, treating them as pagans."

Are you in a (credo)baptist church that would accept someone who was baptized as an infant as a communing member? There was a big stink a while back when Piper ran that up the flagpole and got shot down...I'm sorry for assuming you had that as a context.

" or believing the bible is God's personal love letter to me."

That is sometimes the justification for the style of interpretation you described. I said that I "suspect you don't like how i put it" but you didn't sound interested in discussing something that couldn't be simplified to a proof-text, so I wanted to know where along that spectrum of "hermeneutics" you were.

I appreciate your questions and will try to get to them soon.

chalee said...

@Jim
I would interpret Acts2 with reference to Gen17. This is what Peter was quoting and his basis for understanding covenant. Scripture interprets scripture.

Gen17:7I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

So let's look at your questions here first:

Was the promise to Abraham "to be your God and the God of your descendants after you" salvational? I think so. The intimacy of "I will be yours and you will be Mine?" When Paul talks about the remnant in Rom11, I think he is saying "yes, God's promises to the jews were salvational and of course they are still being kept." Maybe you disagree?

Second, did everyone born to jewish parents in the OT get these promises? I think so.

Rom9:4...the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.

What about the foreigner in Exod12:48? As I said before, Rom4:11 tells us that Abraham “received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith.” So would the foreigner taking the covenant sign as an adult, along with his household, be included in the promises of the covenant? I believe so. Obviously, foreign women like Rahab and Ruth who joined the covenant people as adults were included.

Third, was every child born to jewish parents saved? Nope. The salvational promises were always tied to faith (Heb11; Rom9-11) and not genetics. External circumcision without a soft heart counted for nothing. (Deut10:16; 30:6; Jer4:4; 9:25; Rom2:28) Yet which did God require first: the confession of a soft, faithful heart, or the external sign? (If including infants truly produces more "tares" as some have argued, I'm surprised He commanded it in the first place.)

Between the OT and NT, we have a lot of information about this covenant and how it worked. Which of your 3 categories accurately describes this OT covenant? Maybe number 1 is closest- but doesn't seem to account for the sign of "righteousness by faith" being applied to infants. If your categories can't account for this situation, then IMO you need to add another one.

Peter seems to me to be reiterating God's salvational promises to the jews in Acts2 from Gen17 - He will be their God and they will be His people, them and their children. So I would expect to see the sign of the covenant (now baptism) continue to be applied to "households." And that seems to be what's going on in the NT...if we understand Peter and Paul to be speaking as 1st century jews. I don't believe that extern water guarantees the internal cleansing of the heart whether someone is baptized as an adult or infant- faith is the issue now just as it was then.

After that in Acts2, the promise is broadened- the church will not simply sit in Jerusalem to see if anyone came in and demanded to be included- the dividing wall of hostility has come down and gentiles are actively to be invited in. Those who were far away...excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise are to be brought near and included by the blood of Christ, and not by blood ritual (whether circumcision or sacrifices). The church is to go to all nations, teaching and baptizing.

But I get the questions of "why apply the sign and seal of covenant promises to infants when some jews clearly were unsaved 'covenant breakers' and did not receive those promises?" Naturally that means baptizing infants is about trusting God in obedience when you are aware that without faith, they will not receive those promises. Your way has an efficient appeal- it just doesn't square with the jewish context of the NT teaching.

Lee Shelton IV said...

Thanks to everyone for their participation. FYI, I've posted a brief follow-up here.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails