Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On Infant Baptism

Before i begin, i want to point out that i wasn't meaning to get into the question of infant baptism. This is a sticky subject amongst professing believers, and i have many a good friend who would completely oppose the belief in infant baptism. But, through God's work in my life as a part of one amazing book club, I stumbled upon this book-- Children of the Promise: The Biblical Case for Infant Baptism--written by Robert R. Booth, a former baptist preacher who professed to have ignored this subject for many years. He really got me in one of his opening lines when he said, "I think we often avoid studying a matter because we fear that our views will not be confirmed...Those who sincerely and diligently seek the truth will find it; they have no reason to fear being challenged by any contrary view."
And so, while i had my doubts about the legitimacy of baptizing infants, I forged ahead and diligently sought the truth. Well, i still have a lot to learn, and i don't think if you put me in front of a baptist believer to prove my point, that i would at all prove it. That is, unless, i read straight from this book and pointed them to the suggested scriptures. But through this book, as a tool for God's work, God has shown me that not only is it right to believe in infant baptism, it is being disobedient to him not to believe. Here are a few quotes from the book. There are many more, so i might go for a part two:

I suspect our difficulty in answering the question [of who should be baptized] stems less from a lack of biblical evidence and more from an inability to recognize that evidence when we see it, chiefly because our ways of thinking have changed so drastically from the ways of thinking natural to the authors of the New Testament, something which applies especially to tthe way we think about the family. OUr difficulty in understanding the New Testament's answer to this question is not one of theology, but history, and only if we can get this mental blockage out of our way, then the answer to to question, "who are the proper subjects of baptism?" will, in large measure, take care of itself...

Consequently, if God continues to deal with us as families in his covenant, then we need to give some very serious consideration to what we are doing if we leave our children unbaptized. We are not leaving them free to exercise their own free choice in a democratic universe. Instead, we are forcing them to break God's covenant; we are depriving them of what they have a legitimate right to; and we are making them to be covenant-breakers in the eyes of God.
-Allen Guelzo Who Should Be Baptized? A Case for the Baptism of Infants

If it enters anyone's mind to jest at infant baptism..., he is mocking the command of circumcision given by the Lord [in the Old Testament]. For what will they bring forward to impugn infant baptism that may not be turned back against circumcision?
-John Calvin Institutes

Gregg Bahnsen comments,
"Abraham's circumcision was God's testimony in Abraham's flesh that righteousness cannot be merited by man's natural efforts-- that it must me graciously imputed to the helpless sinner. Abraham was reckoned righteous, therefore, only by trusting in God's promise and provision--faith... we must not well that the signs of the covenant, whether circumcision or baptism,--being God's signs and ordained by Him--are God's testimony to God's gracious work of salvation. They declare the objective truth that justification comes only by faith in God's promise. Circumcision and baptism are not an individual's personal, subjective testimony to having saving faith for himself. God Himself commanded that circumcision be applied to those who He perfectly well knew would not have saving faith in Him (e.g., Ishmael in Gen. 17:18-27)
-"Baptism: Its Meaning and Purpose"

Likewise, in plenty of instances hypocrites who are not true believers have been baptized (cf. Heb. 6:2-6; e.g., Simon Magus in Acts 8:13, 20-23). Some might object that, while God knowingly applied a sign of the Old Covenant to unbelievers (like Ishmael or Esau), this would be inappropriate in the New Covenant. They say New Covenant signs are only for those we have reason to think are believers (by their profession of faith). Such reasoning is well meaning, but nonetheless unbiblical. God the Son knowingly applied the sign of even the New Covenant to the unbelieving 'son of perdition', Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:20-21; Matt. 26:23-29)
-Greg Bahnsen, "Baptism: Its Meaning and Purpose"

1 comment:

Erin said...

Wow, friend! Pulling out the big guns in 2010! Just wanted to say that I totally agree with you - in case you get some comments from dissenters ;-)

This is the logical outworking of our theology and the Bible as a whole. My baby will be given a Social Securty Number when s/he is born for being an American citizen - because Jeff and I are American and it will be born in America. Likewise, we will baptize our little one into the church. We are Christian and the baby is born into the community of God's people.

So now I'm rambling. I'll stop. Love you, girly!