Inconsistency

Had a friendly scuffle with Tur8infan in his combox over infant baptism. The exchange can be read here. I’m writing these thoughts out in this post as I have never seen this line of thought argued in a debate.

I’m a credo-baptist, I believe that the proper subjects of baptism are those who repent and believe. That does not mean that I deny that God can, and does, regenerate infants or the infirm who cannot verbalize their faith/new birth. We, Reformed Baptists, do not exclude infants or the infirm from church or the hearing of the Gospel, but we do wait until a profession is made before we administer baptism or the Supper. We believe that both baptism and the Supper require one to be conscious of their significance.

(Note: I’m sure there are examples in Baptist churches where this is ignored, but I’m speaking firstly of self-proclaimed Reformed Baptist, or credo-baptistic churches who hold to the doctrines of grace.)

To summarize:

Reformed paedobaptists believe that the basis for baptizing infants lay in the concept of Federal Headship and, as Tur8infan states it: “The declaration of faith and repentance for baptism is either the individual’s own, or (in the case of infants) that of the parent(s), just as with circumcision.” Thus, because a parent believes, an infant should be baptized.

Reformed paedobaptists (who do not practice paedocommunion) claim that Scripture demands that one who partakes the Supper examine themselves and discern the body. Thus since an infant cannot do these things, they should be excluded from the meal.

Those who do practice both paedobaptism and paedocommunion claim that federal headship applies to both covenant rites and thus infants of believers so baptized and communed are true members of Christ and the New Covenant.

From my perspective, the paedocommunionists are more consistent at least with how they handle federal headship. I would argue that if baptism = circumcision then the Supper most closely resembles the Passover meal. Yet the Passover meal was provided to all who had been circumcised as long as they could partake (milk-fed infants not withstanding). They did not need to discern the body, as they most likely saw it slain.

Yet, since there is as much demand in Scripture for one to believe and repent before being baptized and afterward to walk in the newness of life, as there is for one to examine oneself and discern the body prior to partaking of the Supper, if you are to apply one standard to baptism, it must be likewise applied to the Supper.

If the faith of the parent enables one, it should enable the other. If however the command for examination and discernment is required of one, and thus prevents an infant from participating in one, it must likewise prevent the other.

My questions, for non-paedocommunionists are these:

1) Into what covenant are infants baptized?

2) Where are the stipulations of said covenant found?

3) Do infants baptized into said covenant receive all the benefits thereof as described?

4) On what basis are infants, baptized into said covenant, excluded from the one rite/object actually identified with that covenant?

5) If circumcised children/infants participated in the Passover meal why are baptized infants prevented from participating in the fulfillment of that meal?

I may think up more questions in the following days, but one other issue must be addressed.

In almost every credo/paedo debate, the paedobaptist side brings up the fact that John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb, that Jesus told the disciples to bring children to him, that one has to have faith “like a child” etc. as some sort of argument for their position.

The problem, of course, with this is several fold. Firstly, since the paedobaptist argument lies in the fact of federal headship and the faith of the parent, not that of the child or infant, the potentiality of faith/regeneration of infants does not make a case for federal-headship-infant-baptism. Leaping babies, blessings from Jesus and faith “like a child” are emotional appeals that speak to the nature of the child and/or God’s care for the child, not to the correctness of baptising them. If one is arguing for paedobaptism on the basis of federal headship, the infant’s faith, or even ability to have faith, should be of no regard.

To this, Tur8in fan wrote:

The John the Baptist example demonstrates that young infants can, in theory, have faith, repentance, and a regenerate heart. (and you wonder why it keeps getting trotted out in debates …)

But this still doesn’t answer the question or explain the usage. No Reformed Baptist denies that infants can be given the gift of faith, or a regenerate heart… so the only purpose therefore in a debate is as an emotional appeal without consistent basis in the Paedobaptist’s federal headship argument.

Finally, I wonder if the fact that we seem to have reduced the Supper to a rite of drinking a thimble of juice/wine and a little piece of bread alters our opinion of what is to be done. I don’t believe that the 1 Cor 11 version of the Supper was merely the clinical ceremony it is today.

Galatians 3:27
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

19 thoughts to “Inconsistency”

  1. Lemme start by saying I really, really, really don’t want to get into this with you (mostly because I’m so rusty at this sort of thing that you’d have me KO’d within the first round). <br /><br />BUT<br /><br />You do know that there’s a good case to be made against "Yet the Passover meal was provided to all who had been circumcised as long as they could partake (milk-fed infants not

  2. Mate, thanks for this. As a paedo-baptist who, himself, baptises children I think you’ve raised some excellent points.<br /><br />Above all, I think you’ve noted the possible inconsistency of those who argue paedo-baptism from a strongly covenantal position. I was also struck by James White’s argument vs Schisko (sp?) from Heb 8 – namely that the New Covenant membership is clearly exclusively

  3. <I>You do know that there’s a good case to be made against "Yet the Passover meal was provided to all who had been circumcised as long as they could partake (milk-fed infants not withstanding)", don’t ya?</I>Lay it down, bro!

  4. David,<br /><br /><I>I cannot get beyond the fact that the whole household of believers were baptised… Perhaps what would be helpful for me would be for a credobaptist to explain household baptisms. </I>No one was baptised who did not believe in Christ.<br /><br />Unless you’re going to argue that some in the household (servants, whatever) did not, there’s no case.<br /><br />"Crispus, the

  5. Micah, I’m not sure what you’re arguing.<br /><br />When the NT speaks of whole households being baptised, surely it means whole households. So I’m not, as you question, stating that some were not baptised.<br /><br />Most crucially, your opening statement "no one was baptised who did not believe in Christ" is an assertion which the text won’t sustain one way or another.<br /><br />In the case of

  6. <I>When the NT speaks of whole households being baptised, surely it means whole households.</I><BR> <BR>No one has ever stated otherwise… but you’re implying that there were unbelievers in that household that were baptized unwillingly.<br /><br /><I>So I’m not, as you question, stating that some were not baptised.</I><BR> <BR>I never stated that! Again, the entirety of the paedobaptist

  7. <I>but you’re implying that there were unbelievers in that household that were baptized unwillingly. </I>Well, "unwillingly" is a new issue that you’ve introduced. I assume you’re talking about adults. In which case my first response would be that by adults in the household I understand the servants – so I don’t think "unwillingly" is understood in the same way.<br /><br /><I> Are you truly

  8. <I>You are, of course, aware that "baptised" is used in this way on a number of occasions in the NT. Or is that a new thought for you?</I><BR><BR>Not a new thought, but appealing to argument that for this text I find suspect.

  9. I go with the idea that baptism is an outward expression of an internal decision. It is an act of <I>obedience</I> and a profession of faith. Neither of which can be ascribed to an infant. I see infant "baptism" more as an annointing, by the parents, a committment to raise their child in the Christian tradition.<br /><br />To me, believing that infant baptism is propitiary in any way puts it on

  10. <I>I go with the idea that baptism is an outward expression of an internal decision. It is an act of obedience and a profession of faith. Neither of which can be ascribed to an infant. I see infant "baptism" more as an annointing, by the parents, a committment to raise their child in the Christian tradition.</I><BR><BR>Steve,<br /><br />The problem is with that view is that there is good Biblical

  11. Lockheed – Concur.<br /><br />I don’t think everything RC is wrong, despite some fundamental Lutherian concerns with aspects of their doctrine.<br /><br /><I>Baptism does not, in Reformed understanding, remove the stain of original sin, nor provide salvation, but rather is a sign and seal of the New Covenant.</I>Again, completely agree.<br /><br />I’m a lifelong evangelical protestant. Been

  12. <I>If I baptize my infant, it is because I am being obedient to the ‘federal headship’ idea. To me, this is a separate and distinct step from my child’s personal decision to be baptized after accepting Christ.</I>Why? Where do you see people being rebaptized in Scripture, ever? Given what baptism means, Scripturally, what warrant is there for ever baptizing someone again who was baptized in a

  13. I validate what the Spirit teaches me WITH the Bible, not, as some like to suggest, creating my own doctrine from the voices in my head.<br /><br />I don’t believe you can truly understand the Bible WITHOUT the Holy Spirit guiding you.<br /><br />But then, I’m one of those wacky evangelical types.

  14. <I>I validate what the Spirit teaches me WITH the Bible, not, as some like to suggest, creating my own doctrine from the voices in my head.</I>Great, this is, in effect, sola Scriptura. The Spirit never points to Himself, but always to the Son via the Word.<br /><br /><I>I don’t believe you can truly understand the Bible WITHOUT the Holy Spirit guiding you.</I>Yes. One might glean general facts,

  15. Hey, for what it’s worth, I have realized that I made a big goof. When I said "monkey wrench in sola scriptura" earlier, I was actually speaking of the Catholic doctrine of "ex cathedra," or more specifically, the Catholic church being the sole source of doctrinal "correctness."<br /><br />Need to work on my Thesaurus a bit.

  16. I’m a Biblical literalist, but not a young earth creationist. Figure that one out. I believe that the Scriptures are God-breathed, but that it also helps to know the cultural context of the speaker to better understand what is being said.<br /><br />I believe that the gifts of the Spirit are operative today, and didn’t cease with the Apostles, however, I’m not a bark-like-a-dog, roll around on

  17. Have you read my piece on tongues? ;)<br /><br />Also, how would any special revelation today not be "men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" and how would that <I>not</I> be Scripture today, binding upon believers?

  18. I believe that R.C. Sproul is an annointed teacher and preacher. He expounds an illuminates the scriptures in such a way that I am edified and God is glorified.<br /><br />But I don’t think he is speaking Scripture. Any modern teaching, prophetic utterances, or doctrinal position must be evaluated through the lens of Scriptures. The Apostles, through there direct annointing from Christ, had a

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