Those of you not in the Reformed world and even some of those who are may not be aware that we are currently in the Great Baptist Butthurt of 2022 following the statement on Crosspolitic (mainly from their guest) that Baptist theology is the cause of trannyism. I would generally tend to agree with them; while the statement may seem silly on its own merits understood in its actual context I feel it is vindicated. But since this controversy has reignited the baptism debate I feel motivated to finally put in the effort as I have been meaning to to demonstrate the biblical practice of infant baptism.
Many evangelicals are swayed heavily by the Baptist error, and many even who are members of churches which baptize babies take for granted that there is no scriptural license for the baptism of infants, and believe that it is done from human practice rather than divine command. This is a tradition of men, which proceeds from the human tendency to polarize, in this case against medieval tradition, for which cause the reformers called them radicals. This human tradition taken to its most extreme form leads inevitably to damnable heresy and separation from Christ, as it historically produced the heresies of the Socinians and the neo-Arians. This unfortunate Anabaptist influence is most concerning in its wider impact on Christian thought which has led many Christians in this dark age to develop grossly unbiblical ideas of hermeneutics, ecclesiology, soteriology and even theology proper, among other things.
Of the Baptists the least consistent and yet the heftiest of all are the Reformed Baptists, who maintain biblical doctrine and appropriate thought processes generally speaking but inconsistently with that are influenced to reject the baptism of the children of believers. Some of them allege that the reformers maintained infant baptism not because they were convicted by the testimony of scripture but because of the command of the state, which used baptismal records as a kind of census. This explanation seems silly to me, since it can take us only a few seconds to solve the apparent problem (simply go through the entire process, but without sprinkling the baby) it seems to do little but insult those great men of God to suppose that they could not, and it was never their tendency to allow Caesar's whim to dictate their theology even when it brought them into conflict. Also as often they for some reason single out John Calvin and say that his doctrine of baptism was a theological novum of the 16th century; this irrelevance I feel is plainly contradicted by the support we have from many in the early church, most obviously Augustine. It is absurd to suppose that because John Calvin's argument for infant baptism was not the emphasis of ancient sacramentology that therefore it was inconsistent. But while we are on the note of Calvin I would like to segue by noting my agreement with him, that "Should it appear to have been devised merely by human rashness, let us abandon it, and regulate the true observance of baptism entirely by the will of the Lord; but should it be proved to be by no means destitute of His sure authority, let us beware of discarding the sacred institutions of God, and thereby insulting their Author."
I would begin by questioning the Baptists: whether baptism may properly be called a seal of the righteousness which the saint already has by faith? I think none but the most wily Baptists will deny it, for it is little more than an accurate description of the basic fact of baptism, but I think they are right to deny it for they know that such terminology when used in the bible is used not of baptism, but of circumcision (Romans 4:11). If this fact was no impediment to the children of believers receiving the sacrament of faith under the old law (Genesis 17:12), why should it be under the new? Seeing as God indeed ordered this sacrament be applied to children we must know when it was He was pleased to abrogate that command?
But this brings us to a fundamental error of which all Baptists are guilty. They say that "baptism is an ordinance of the new covenant"; this I deny and instead affirm that baptism is a sacrament of the covenant of grace according to the administration thereof which is called new. While the accidents of the old and new covenants are very different indeed, the former consisting in shadows and the latter in the light of Jesus Christ, according to substance they are one and the same covenant of grace (Galatians 3:15-18), founded on the blood of Jesus Christ. For the old fathers always walked by faith in the heavenly promises of He who was to come, as when God first showed mercy to fallen man He did so saying "I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; and He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" and thereafter He sealed this promise to them by clothing them in slain creatures to save them from the consequences of their sin.
Consistent with their hard distinction between the covenants the Baptists argue that the difference between the covenants consists largely in that while the old covenant included many unbelievers, the new covenant is now exclusive to the elect. Continuing they say that only those who actually do believe are to receive the sign of the covenant. Sometimes the wiser among them will clarify that it is they who profess to believe that are to be baptized, but since this is not actually consistent with their argument from the covenant they will still essentially say that we are to baptize those who do believe. At this point their ecclesiology has broken down entirely, and they pretend the ability to see into men's hearts. For if only those who do believe are to be baptized then they are guilty of injustice when they baptize one who falsely claims to believe, and out of sheer consistency with this absurdity a shockingly large number of them are guilty of a more outlandish absurdity in repeatedly baptizing the same men over and over following apostasy and recovery of faith or even of a believer merely when he backslides and lapses. I ask of the two views is this not the one that is more consistent with an ex opere operato sacerdotalism? In divorcing the efficacy of baptism from the objective giving of the promise regardless of its significance to the recipient at that moment, they seem to conjoin the grace to the external sign and make it depend more on a kind of subjective magic, so that if one falls away after having received it the incantation must have failed and needs to be applied again.
Contrary to the previous view we maintain that they are to be baptized who are externally members of the covenant of grace, which is the same thing as saying those who are to be baptized are the members of the visible Church of Jesus Christ. This 'visible' and 'external' membership is the only sort which mere men are capable of perceiving, I sincerely hope I do not need to cite proofs for that. The question now becomes whether the children of believers are members of their covenant, and the testimony of scripture compels us to answer in the affirmative, for our Lord says "Suffer the little ones to come to me, truly I say to you the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" and with Him Paul agrees when he says that a believer's child is holy on their account (1 Corinthians 7:14). If it is objected that he also says the unbelieving spouse is holy, I answer that they are disqualified by any sort of true membership in the covenant on account of their active rejection of the truth which a baby is incapable of, but they are indeed counted as holy in a sense, as for the sake of their Christian family they are treated as if they were members of the covenant in this life insofar as they are made partakers of the same temporal and worldly blessings in the hopes that by them they might be led to repentance, just as old Israel was given the blessing of land to bring it to faith that would lead them to the country of heaven. And indeed we see from the consistency of the covenants that the children are members, for what God had promised to Abraham was "I will be a God to you, and to your seed after you"; likewise Peter after having preached "Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins" invoked that same Abrahamic promise, which would not have been lost on any of his Jewish listeners, saying "For the promise is for you and your children". If it is objected that the sentence continues "and for all who are far off, all whom the Lord our God calls to Himself" I answer that the citation has ceased at this point because the relevance of the verse to this topic has ceased.
All three groups are defined as being 1. those whom the promise is for and 2. those whom the Lord our God calls to Himself. Consequently we must conclude that "you" here refers to those Jews which were hearing his words that did believe, and "all who are far off" refers to those Jews and gentiles not present who would believe. Since "you" and "your" are identical, "your children" means "the children of you who are believing". If it is further objected that the promise being for these children is contingent on the same grounds as those who are far off, namely, that at some point in the future they must actually believe, I answer that indeed if they do not believe but reject the truth they will be cut off from the promise, but in this moment it is truly "for" them; Peter has not said "For you and for children" but "For you and your children", meaning specifically at this moment it is (ἐστιν) for them specifically on account of their parents, and I trust nobody thinks there is something more special about these Jews than other Christians to receive such grace. It is not to be protested that the promise also is presently 'ἐστιν' for those who are far off as well, because they may be included in the present on account of their having been predestined before the foundation of the world. Furthermore as this is the repetition of the Abrahamic promise I note that foremost the promise that is being made is here primarily for the parents rather than their children, namely that He shall not abandon them, but will be a God to them and to their seed after them.
Message too long. Click
to view full text.
12 posts omitted.