Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The dangers of being a credobaptist

It's no secret that I've not always been Reformed. I was actually raised in a Baptist church and slowly became reformed, but that is a whole story itself. Needless to say though the last major obstacle I had to joining the RCUS was infant baptism. I could readily see Calvinism in the scriptures, but for a long time I didn't understand why they insisted on baptizing their babies. It wasn't until I understood the covenant of grace that this made sense--had to get rid of that whole thinking that the Old Testament is totally irrelevant today.

Either way, I don't wish to make a full argument for paedobaptism right now--let's leave that to those more experienced. I want to suggest there are some dangers about being a credobaptist and not baptizing your children. My basis for this is found in Genesis when circumcision was instituted:
You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
(Gen 17:11-14 ESV)

Baptism and circumcision both point to the same reality--the washing away or the cutting away of sin (see Colossians 2:11-12). Both also signify the entrance into the visible church in their respective testaments. This being said, it is a very scary thought when you read this passage. God is saying that those who reject the sign of the covenant are rejecting what the sign points to. The true Jew knew that circumcision does not save a person; just as the true Christian today knows that baptism does not save a person. And yet, a rejection of the sign was a rejection of the covenant itself.

Now, as Peter said at Pentecost, the New Testament promise is to us, our children, and all who are afar off. Note that the change in the formula is not a removal of our children from the promise, but an addition of the Gentiles. This would indicate that the children of Christian parents are still heirs of the promise just as the Jewish children were in Israel's time. It would not make any sense for Peter to be saying that the promise (i.e. the covenant) was still unto the children of believers and yet not have the sign of the covenant applied to them.

Here's where the danger comes in; if it was considered a rejection of the covenant by those who refused circumcision to their children in the Old Testament, how much more dangerous is it for those who refuse to baptize their children in the New Testament when the revelation is so much clearer. After all, the author of Hebrews councils us to pay closer attention to the things of the New Covenant because if the things spoken by angels (the Old Covenant) proved steadfast, then how much more attention should we pay to the things spoken by the Son of God Himself? This would seem to make it an extremely foolish act to not baptize covenant children--if you are a believer. God does not take the rejection of his sign lightly.


At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even worse, Christian parents who circumcise their sons are opening them up to eternal damnation, because he who circumcises has to obey the entire old law of the old testament, the act of physical circumcision is a rejection of everything that The Saviour came to us for.

Galatians 5:1-6

Freedom in Christ

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Other passages of interest:

Galatians 6:12-16

Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

1 Corinthians 7:19

Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts.

Romans 2:29

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

Colossians 2:8-12

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Philippians 3:2-3

Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Swinder said...


I'm not so sure that I would go that far. I mean Paul did circumcise Timothy to keep from being an offense to the Jews: Acts 16: 1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

I think what Paul is arguing against in all those passages is simply that circumcision and keeping the law saves you. The Jews had begun to think that simply by being circumcised they were saved. Paul removes all thinking that circumcision saves us in all the passages you quote. Not all Israel was even Israel right?


At 7:01 AM, Blogger delete said...

Sound words--and a great blog. It's nice to find another RCUS blogger.


At 8:15 PM, Blogger Andrew McIntyre said...


Although I was a Calvinist, my impetus for leaving the credobaptists was my first born son. The whole God seeking to kill Moses passage had a profound effect on me. God owns our children. We must not play fast and loose with the sacraments He has appointed for them. This is truly serious business.


At 1:02 PM, Blogger Swinder said...


That passage is definitely a warning as well. I can imagine that would have an effect on a first time parent!


At 12:50 PM, Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Swinder, thank you for posting on this important topic. I hope you don't mind, but I've linked to it at my blog.

At 9:38 PM, Blogger delete said...


The Old Testament requirement was to circumcise male children on the eight day after their birth--their physical birth being the point of entry into the convenant (the Old Covenant). The New Testament requirement is to baptize upon entry into the New Covenant. The question that must be answered is when does one enter the New Covenant. The Bible describes the point of entry as being "born again", the spiritual birth, not the physical birth. Are children of believers "born again"? Infant baptism is something that the reformers carried forth from the Roman Catholic church. If you search the scriptures, you will find that baptism is the sign and seal for those that have entered the New Covenant--those who have been born again. I know that I can't go into a complete explanation in this comment. I am working on a detailed exegetical study of God's Word on this subject and will be posting it to my blog: Noon at Night. I invite you to watch for it.

In Christ

David S. Spaggiari

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Swinder said...


I must disagree with your analysis of when children of believers enter the New Covenant. As I said in my post, both testaments had the same promise that God had made to believers. "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." Also read Romans 4. There is a lot more in the chapter than just the idea that the promises are the same, but that is one of the main points:

11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,

13 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (NKJV)

Paul argues that the promise made to Abraham was through faith. That it was the same promise as we have now and which circumcision pointed to. Baptism also points to this same promise--which I don't think you deny. If both the promises are the same (from Old to New Testament) and the promise is to children of believers in both cases, then how can children be denied the sign of the promise when they have the promise itself? Nowhere in the bible does it say that the promise has ceased to be to our children. In fact, Peter says quite the opposite of that at Pentecost.

To disprove paedobaptism one must show that the covenant is now totally individualistic in its promises, and that baptism now subjectively says "I'm saved" rather than objectively pointing to the washing away of sins that Christ provides by His sacrifice. I would argue that this can not be proven from the Bible.

-Josh (Swinder)

At 6:39 AM, Blogger delete said...


If all children of believers are part of the New Covenant then entry into the New Covenant is not through the blood of Christ alone, but also through the bloodline of believers. This means that since my wife and I are both believers that all of my decendants from now until the Lord returns will be saved. The key here is at what point does one enter the covenant. The Old Covenant was through Abraham's bloodline; the New Covenant is through faith in Jesus Christ. Under the Old Covenant, anyone who was part of a covenant household was to be circumcised. That is not the case under the New Covenant. If a believing man marries an unbelieving woman, is she to be baptized? Absolutely not! Why? Because she is not a believer; she is not born-again. If a believing couple adopts a 13-year-old child who is an unbeliever, is that child to be baptized? Absolutely not! Why? Because that child is not a believer; he is not born-again.

I believe that in God's soveriegnty and providence, that most children born into believing families are of the elect, but that is because of God's providence, not because of bloodline. The only justification with which one can baptize infants is the assumption that since those children were born into believing families, they (the children) are among the elect and will someday profess faith in Christ. This is a heartwarming sentiment but it is not biblical. Most children born into believing families will grow up to become believers, at which time they should be baptized--as believers.

I believe that an exegetical vs. an eisegetical study of scripture will lead one to embrace the doctrine of baptizing believers and believers only.

I appreciate this discussion and wish to continue it as long as you would like. I want to glorify God in all I do, say, and write, and I believe He is glorified when His children are able to discuss differences on non-essentials of the faith. God bless you!

David S. Spaggiari

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Swinder said...


Yes!! It is through the blood of Christ that all children of believers are part of the New Covenant. It is only because of the blood of Christ (and the great promises that the blood of Christ fulfills) that we have any hope at all. Does this mean every baptized child is elect and each personally washed in the blood of Christ? Of course not. But to them the oracles of God are committed just as they were to Israel in the Old Testament. Consider Romans 3:1-4:

Romans 3:1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:

“ That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.”

This is the same thing (promises and oracles) that Peter speaks of at Pentecost when he tells the new believers there that the promise is unto them and unto their children and to all who are afar off. Was all of Israel actually saved? No. Many of them were reprobates, and yet they were to be circumcised. They had the promises. Now I grant you that this passage isn't addressing infant baptism directly, but the principle is what I'm concerned with here. In baptism we are saying the exact same thing. We are not saying that baptizing the infants saves them (we aren't saying that with adult baptism either); no, we are saying that unto them the promises are committed (in BOTH cases). How people enter the covenant in the Old and the New Testament is largely the same.

Paul even answers your objection that can be generalized to "doesn't baptizing people who won't necessarily be saved invalidate the meaning of baptism: that Christ saves?" Certainly not! Just because someone who is baptized as an infant later goes onto prove themselves reprobate does not mean that the promise is of no effect--just as Israel's unfaithfulness to the promise did not make it of no effect.

Also, where exactly in your reading of scriptures did you get the idea that God no longer deals with covenant households? I see a few examples of household baptisms in the New Testament (Centurion in Acts 10, Lydia in Acts 16, and a reference to Stephanas in 1 Corinthians 1:16). Whether there were actually infants in these households is largely irrelevant--the key idea is that households were being baptized. This is not reading into the scriptures to find what I want to find. It is to be expected when we have thousands of years of Jewish history with God saying your children are in the covenant. In order for us not to expect to have our children in the New Covenant, the scriptures should specifically change that in the New Testament and say that our children are NOT in the covenant any longer. We see exactly the opposite of this (we are told the promise is still unto our children too).

We both desire to exegetically read the scriptures, and indeed we must all strive for that. I really think that the only way one can miss infant baptism in the scripture though is to read the New Testament outside of the context of the Old Testament. I did this for a long time as a Baptist; the Old Testament was of little use to me. The scriptures as a whole made a lot more sense once I considered the Old Testament background (Romans 11:17-24 and John 15:1-5 especially made a lot more sense if there are children of believers in the covenant).


At 12:33 PM, Blogger delete said...


Your three New Testament examples of household baptism are commonly cited to support the infant-baptism belief.

I noticed that you referenced 1 Corinthians 1:16 regarding Stephanas, but left out 1 Corinthians 15–16. This passage describes Stephanas and his household as being the “first fruit of Achaia” (which would indicate they were believers) and that they “devoted themselves for ministry to the saints”. Infants certainly would not be able to devote themselves for ministry to the saints.

Acts 16:31–34 describes Paul and Silas as telling the jailer to believe in the Lord Jesus and he and his entire household would be saved. We can read that to mean that if the jailer believed in Jesus that he would be saved and his household would be saved based on his faith alone. This is an unbiblical interpretation as my faith saves me and me alone. I believe the correct interpretation of this passage is that the Lord would save his household also if they believed. The passage goes on to say that Paul and Silas spoke the Word of the Lord to him and his household and that he and his household were baptized. I believe that interpreting this passage to mean that his household believed and were therefore baptized is more logical and biblically sound than to interpret it to mean that the Jailer had infants in his household who were baptized.

Acts 16:14–15 is definitely the most ambiguous as it does not state that her household heard the Word or believed. Once again, I believe that interpreting this passage to mean that her household believed and were therefore baptized is more logical and biblically sound than to interpret it to mean that she had infants in her household who were baptized.

You did not address my examples of unbelieving spouses and unbelieving adopted children. I am interested in hearing what you have to say about those examples. I believe your take on those will be significant in that I am assuming that you believe they should not be baptized. If that is the case I would like to know where you draw the line and why.

The tone (which is difficult to read in written communications) seemed a bit hostile. If I have misread it, I apologize. I am stimulated by our discussion, but if you are not edified by this exchange we can certainly stop.

Thanks for your interaction and God bless you!

David S. Spaggiari

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Swinder said...


I didn't mean to appear hostile. I apologize if that was so :-)

Agreed, that the examples I cited have commonly be misused to prove infant baptism in terms of infants actually being in those households. As you have pointed out there is no indication either way if there were infants in the household or not, and speculation on that isn't going to buy either side anything. My point was that it talks about households being baptized--not infants being baptized. Even if there were actually no infants in any of the households then it still proves what I was getting at. God did not cease to deal with people in terms of covenantal households with the New Covenant. This means that we cannot ignore the Old Testament on this issue because God's pattern of dealing with people had not changed regarding children (as they are in the household).

As far as your example of an believer marrying an unbelieving spouse, I'm honestly not sure. I would probably lean towards a no answer as to the spouse being baptized as they are an adult and adults were treated differently with regard to the covenant in the Old Testament as well. On the other hand, children of at least one believing party are called holy in 1 Corinthians 7:14, so they ought to be baptized.

On an adopted 13-year old child, I'm not entirely sure either. Is there something special about the 13 years? If the child were an infant, the most definitely they should be whether they are natural children or adopted. If they are really adults, then they probably should not be. Where exactly this age line is, I don't know.

The real issue to me is the Old Testament pattern. The Old Testament set a pattern that children of believers were included in the covenant and were therefore to have to have the sign of the covenant administered to them. I grant you that if we read the New Testament apart from any Old Testament background any of the positions is possible. Christ invited little children unto him, yet there are no examples of infants being baptized. There is really very little guidance on that. Peter said that the promise was unto our children, but maybe this means our adult children? Without the Old Testament providing a backdrop to understand these things, it would be hard to reach a consensus.

The thing is that everything is done just as expected if the pattern of our children being included is to continue from the Old Testament. Peter tells us that the promise is still unto our children. Households are baptized (the change here is that households are baptized, not circumcised--not that everything was done on an individual basis). Christ still warns about abiding in the vine and that there is danger in rejecting him and being "cut off" from the vine. The fact there are no examples of infant baptism in the scripture is also to be expected. The gospel had not really been preached very long at their writing. This was a time of a bunch of new converts coming to the faith, so they would all be baptized after they believed. There is no commandment or passage telling us our children are no longer in the covenant--that the promise is no longer unto them. Everything seems to indicate that this was unchanged.

I don't intend this to appear hostile, but I do intend some points to be emphasized. I enjoy having to explain my position because it points out any holes in my thinking and causes me to examine the scriptures more ;-)

In Christ,

At 6:27 PM, Blogger delete said...

Josh, you’re doing a great job of making the Biblical case. An aside: The church has always baptized its young; it was only until after the Reformation that any serious controversy arose. Consider the following:

Concerning baptism Irenaeus (c. 180) wrote. . .

“He came to save all persons by means of Himself—all, I say, who through Him are born again to God—infants, children, boys, youth, and old men.” (Remember that Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the apostle John)

“Even to the greatest sinners and to those who have sinned much against God, when they subsequently believe, remission of sins is granted. Nobody is hindered from baptism and from grace. How much more should we shrink from hindering an infant. For he, being lately born, has not sinned—other than, in being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth. For this reason, he more easily approaches the reception of the forgiveness of sins. For to him are remitted—not his own sins—but the sins of another. Therefore, dearest brother, this was our opinion in council that no one should be hindered by us from baptism and from the grace of God.” (Cyprian c. 250)

“Baptize your infants also and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of God. For He says, “Allow the little children to come unto me and do not forbid them.” (Apostolic Constitutions.” (Compiled c. 390)

By the way, all of these comments came before the Roman Catholic Church started.


At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Tim B said...

Wow, Shawn...I'm almost speechless. Do you really want to lean on this statement by Irenaeus? I'm not sure you recognize the full import of what you are supporting here. He declared baptized infants to be "born again"!!! Is this really your view as well? Most reputable infant baptizers I know do not believe this.

I also found your confident assertion that "the church has always baptized its young" to be overreaching and a classic example of seeing what one wants to see in history. There is no example of an infant baptism in the Book of Acts or any of the Epistles, so how can you say the church "has always" done so?

At 6:30 AM, Blogger delete said...

Greetings, Tim. My quote of Irenaeus was to show that the early church baptized its young, nothing more. Also, for a Bible defense of the Covenantal view of baptism, I commend to you Josh’s comments above.


At 12:33 PM, Blogger delete said...


I appreciate you clarifying your position of wanting to continue this discussion and not being upset. This is really getting interesting!

I appreciate your candor in not having definate and specific answers regarding unbelieving spouses or older adopted children. By the way, there is nothing significant in the age 13. I just chose that age to indicate someone who is old enough to be able to articulate faith in Christ.

Let me ask you this: Under the old covenant, all (male) members of a household were to be circumcised. If the recipients of the sign and seal have not changed then why would we not baptize an unbelieving spouse or any other unbeliever in the household? My answer to that is because they are not born-again. One of my neighbors just recently became born-again. Her husband does not profess faith in Christ. Under the New Covenant, she needs to be baptized but he should not be. Under the Old Covenant, the entire household would receive the sign and seal.

You drew a distinction between how infants should be handled and how adult unbelievers should be handled under the New Covenant. I do not see this distinction in the New Testament and that would certainly be a change from the Old Testament. Can you expand on that?

I am enjoying this Josh and I believe the Lord is glorified by this type of interaction between brothers. I hope that some unbelievers are following this because I believe in addition to edifying one another, we are displaying the love of Christ here!

God bless you,


At 1:56 PM, Blogger Angelfaces said...

As a quiet observer of this thread (and blog) I will say that nobody sounds hostile or aggiatated in any way. I think it is great that believing men (and women) can discuss scripture and godly principals in a kind and loving manner. By this they will know we are diciples of Christ.

I see both sides of the 'coin' and am not sure where I ultimately will land on the manner...

...that being said, I must comment on 2 of Josh's remarks that trouble me and a tone in Shawn that concerns me:

You say that the only way to miss infant baptism is to read the N.T. apart from the O.T. This would mean that anybody that does not subscribe to infant baptism does not believe scripture (all of it) is needed for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Tim.3:16). I don't think you should make that leap into the judgement of others convictions on the manner. It almost sounds like you don't believe they would be 'real Christians'. If that is not what you intended to imply, then forgive my understanding of what you said.

The O.T. itself POINTS to the very covenent that Christ made with His chosen before the foundations of the world. But the mere fact that there is an Old Covenent and a New Covenant would imply that some things about the old one are now NEW...different...NOT the same...otherwise there would not be two covenants at all! You had stated that the covenants were the same.

You also said that it is through the bloodline of Christ that all children of believers are part of the New Covenant. I don't see that as a bibilical principal. Scripture is quite clear on how someone enters into the N.C. By believing in their hearts and confessing with their mouth that Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9). Pretty clear to me. The N.C. is by grace alone and not by my 'doing' anything. The sactification of my salvation is when I 'do'. Baptism (it seems to me as I write) is the first thing on the to-do-list ;)

Quoting others from early church life I believe may prove to be shaky. They were not the vessels by which the Lord wrote His word. They read, studied, and hopefully were discerning (as we are today) in their conclusions. But the mere fact that the Reformation brought about so many biblical changes in what was "always done", weakens the very point you are trying to make (I think ;) ).

To both Shawn and Josh,
I am assuming (uh oh, I know we are not supposed to do that ;) ), that you all give your children the sacrements at Communion? Being that they are already part of the N.C. I would conclude then that RCUS gives their entire households Communion?
If not, would you explain why not? Especially in light of all you have written (mostly Josh, but Shawn appears to agree with infant baptism)

I am not as profound as you all are, nor as versed in scripture. I am really enjoying reading the discussion and pray that I have not offended in my comments.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Swinder said...



Yeah I was just wondering about the age 13; isn't that close to or is it the age of accountability that some Christians talk about?

As far as your question, in a sense the recipients have changed a bit on who receives the covenant seal--but it has gotten wider. Female children as well as male children receive baptism in our churches (as well as women are baptized as adults now as well) Circumcision was only applied to male children before (I can't imagine why LOL). As to how that change is justified, I would argue from Galatians 3:28 (There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.) that it has. The covenant has gotten broader and wider so to speak in the New Testament rather than narrower (Gentiles are included now too).

As far as the issue regarding the whole household being baptized, the most consistent position to me would seem that if the head of the house is converted and believes, then all of the house should be baptized. This would produce a very strange situation if the wife is the one who believes and yet the husband is still head of the house. In that situation, I would say that the pattern would indicate the house should not be baptized because it's head has not believed. On the there hand, if the husband believes perhaps the wife should be following and be baptized as well. If we still lived in a time of slavery or whatever, the servants in that house probably ought to be baptized as well. This pattern is established in Genesis 17:10-14 when Abraham originally received circumcision. Exodus 12:43-49 also probably ought to be considered.

43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. 44 But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. 45 A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. 46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” (NKJV)

Note how this same idea of joining Israel in keeping the Passover seems to be very similar to the households in the New Testament believing and then being baptized. The heads of households believed and the house was baptized and the stranger within Israel had to circumcise his entire house to partake.

As far as your comment about a distinction between unbelieving adults and infants, perhaps you have a good point there. The distinction does not seem to be between adults and infants but rather between people of the household or not. Usually adults in the normal timing of things leave their father's house--a son and a daughter (not of the same household of course) unite and form a new household. Would Ishmael have been circumcised if he was older and forming his own new household? Probably not.

On some of these more specific questions, I definitely don't think the answer is as easy. I would hear arguments about baptizing spouses on both sides. This is a common problem though in working out the specifics of a general principle.

In Christ,

At 6:49 PM, Blogger delete said...

Hello, Angelfaces. Thank you for the thoughtful question. (Though I’m not sure what you mean by “tone,” so I’ll have to let that be.) I agree with your assessment of the church fathers. As I mentioned above, I was simply showing that Covenantal inclusion of infants marked by baptism was practiced by the church up to the post-Reformation times. I’m not offering an argument here (for Josh is doing a far better job than I could)—I just find it interesting. (By the way, I chose a quote from each century that preceded the founding of the Roman Catholic Church because some claim that the Reformers practiced infant baptism because they were still being influenced by their, Rome’s, doctrines.)

The reason I find it interesting is that if Christ and the Apostles taught that children are no longer part of the covenant, and therefore they should not receive the covenantal sign, why did the church immediately drop that teaching and again start acting as if the children are included? Again, no argument here (for that must be done by Scripture alone, as Josh is doing); it’s just something that makes me go, “hmm (insert contemplative thought here).”

As far as infant communion is concerned, no we don’t practice it. For the reason we take this position, I recommend reading our denomination’s position paper on this topic: Infant Communian

Josh and David, I hope you keep the conversation going. It’s very edifying!


At 7:51 PM, Blogger Swinder said...


Welcome to my blog :-). I hope you've enjoyed yourself!

I didn't mean to imply by my statement about being unable to miss infant baptism if the Old Testament was read that Baptists aren't Christians. I have several Baptist friends and some in that tradition have my immense respect (Spurgeon for instance has a lot of respect from me). On the other hand, I do believe they are wrong on this and that they are in disobedience to God by not baptizing their children.

Forgive me if I slipped up and said the Old Covenant and the New Covenant are the same. I remember stating that the way you enter it is largely the same, and that the promises associated with it are the same (the Abrahamic covenant and the New Covenant in particular), but if I ever said that they were exactly the same I was wrong in that. The covenants progressively reveal Jesus Christ more and more fully (the Old Testament has Him, but only in shadows and figures). The simple fact that I believe infants should be baptized not circumcised should show I believe some things have changed.

As to your next point, I didn't say that all children of believers were a part of the New Covenant through the bloodline of Christ. I said it was through the blood of Christ and I tried to specify that it was specifically through the promises about the blood of Christ. This was what Peter was saying at Pentecost--the promise is unto our children and that promise has validity because of the blood of Christ. That is all I was trying to say there.

As far as why we don't serve infants communion. I'll refer you mainly to the paper that Shawn linked you to, but the basic difference is that Paul indicates that communion is only for those who can discern the Lord's body.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (NKJV)

I hope this answers your questions.

In Christ,

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Tim B said...

Thanks for your greeting Shawn. I certainly may have read more into your quoting this passage from Iranaeus than you intended. I hope I did. However, since you chose to quote it and then followed the quote with the comment regarding his spiritual lineage as a kind of spiritual grandson of the apostle John, you must see that you left the impression that you not only agreed with his full statement but also saw his statement as descended directly from John's own teaching.

Irenaeus was in error to believe that baptized infants are born again at the moment of their baptism. I'm still curious based on your response though. Do you agree with me on this or do you agree with Irenaus?

Of course, the implications of your view on this are big. ;-)

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Tim B said...

One more comment Shawn, if I may. I followed the link and read your denomination's position paper on Infant Communion. It is a well reasoned and well written argument with which I fully agree.

I did find it somewhat ironic however, that the main point made was that we cannot / should not build our church practice from silence. This was ironic to me, since the case for infant baptism is established entirely on Old Covenant inferences that are debatable without a single passage teaching or requiring it in the New Testament record.

At 5:48 AM, Blogger delete said...


I believe that the study of New Testament baptism must begin with the following three elements. Once these three elements, their definitions and interpretations have been established as a presupposition, then all other passages, examples, and applications can be interpreted and discerned from that presuppositional point of view.

The New Covenant
The New Covenant is a covenant of blood; in Christ’s shed blood, and entry into the New Covenant is through salvation. Christ shed his blood to pay for the sins of a specific and finite group of individuals; not for a nation, a race, or any other predefined group, but for a predestined group of individuals that transcends race, color, sex, etc., and who were recorded in the Book of Life before the world was created.
(Matthew 26:27–29, Mark 14:23–24, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:23–33, Revelation 21:27)

Salvation by Faith
Salvation is by grace through faith alone. No one can be saved through the faith of another.
(Ephesians 2:8–9, 3:17)

Baptism is the sign and seal of being part of or included in the New Covenant.
(Matthew 28:19–20, Mark 16:15–16)

I see these three elements as being the core elements of a study in the New Testament application of baptism. All other passages, examples, and applications can then be interpreted and discerned from a presuppositional point of view arrived at from these core elements of the study. For example: Paedobaptists often cite 1 Corinthians 7:14 as a proof-text for infant baptism. I look at this passage with the affirmation that the above elements are true and that God does not contradict Himself. I am, therefore, able to accept that there must be an explanation of Paul’s writing other than infants being part of the covenant.

The common thread through these three elements is covenant. In the Old Covenant God promised to provide salvation and that salvation was provided through the nation of Israel. In the New Covenant, God provides salvation (a better covenant) and He provides that salvation to individuals. The two covenants are different. If there was no difference between the covenants, there would have been no need for a new covenant. The covenants are not totally different, nor are they totally the same.

I believe that the root of our disagreement is in the baptism of infants belonging (whether by birth or adoption) to believing parents. Through the course of our discussion, however, I have sensed an uncertainty on your part as to how baptism should be applied in other situations (e.g., older children brought into believing households, believing husband/unbelieving wife, believing wife/unbelieving husband). Uncertainties such as these are inherent to Paedobaptism because it sets forth a precedent in which the lack of biblical principle becomes glaring in some of these other situations. Because this discussion really only allows us to skate across the surface of this topic, let’s stick to the question of baptizing infants belonging to believing parents.

My argument for credobaptism is simple really. Based upon the three elements I set forth earlier in this comment, baptizing infants violates the biblical principles demonstrated in the three elements. For example:

• If only members of the covenant are to be baptized, then infants must be members of the covenant. How are they part of the covenant? Since they are too young to possess their own faith, they must have entered the covenant through the faith of their parents. This is unbiblical.

• If infants are part of the covenant, people for whom Christ shed His blood would end up perishing in hell eternally, since we know there are children born (or adopted) into believing families who do not become born-again. This is unbiblical.

• If infants are not members of the covenant and we baptize them, then we are giving them the sign and seal of a covenant to which they do not belong. This is unbiblical.

• If infants are legitimately part of the covenant, then the covenant could not be a covenant of salvation, a covenant in blood; in Christ’s shed blood, since infants can’t posses their own faith. This is unbiblical.

The best that could be stated for baptizing infants is that through God’s sovereignty and providence, He usually places children who are members of the elect into believing households. Those children will be raise in the ways of the Lord and will most likely receive the faith necessary for salvation. This is a true statement of which I heartily subscribe, but it does not place infants within the covenant until they are born-again. My conclusion is that baptizing infants is a clear violation of biblical principles governing the New Covenant.

I know that this is not a comprehensive or exhaustive study on this subject, but even with these basic elements, I do not see how a biblical case can be built for baptizing infants, much less any other person who is not born-again. Everything that I have read in support of paedobaptism, in some way violates one of the three elements I set forth earlier in this comment. I can’t get beyond the basic and foundational biblical principles in these core elements. Most of what I have read takes ancillary passages, extrapolates upon them, and ignores one of the core elements.

This is why I have concluded that credobaptism is the correct and biblical principal and paedobaptism is not. I also believe that this is why credobaptism can be easily and absolutely applied to any and all situations without hesitation and without violating any of these core biblical principles, and why paedobaptism can not.

Do you agree with the three core elements I set forth earlier in this comment?

If you do not, why?

If you do, how do you reconcile these principles with baptizing infants?

Thanks for your openness and willingness to share and discuss your viewpoints on this subject. God bless, Josh!


At 1:38 PM, Blogger Swinder said...


First, although I'm by no means a systematic theologian, I disagree that you must first presuppose these three principles before you study New Testament baptism. Don't get me wrong, these are important (I'll comment specifically on them later), but baptism has roots in the Old Testament. All the various washing of the priest before entering the tabernacle, all the various laws about uncleanness and then washing, and such should be understood. Since baptism is now the sign and seal of the New Covenant, we probably also ought to understand how the old seal of the previous administration of the covenant worked. John the Baptist did not just make up this baptism thing. Please also note, I'm not saying they are exactly the same by any means--there are large differences, but I also think you'll miss a lot if you look only at the New Testament.

As far as your three principles, I agree with you on the last two. The first one is the one I disagree with your explanation on. I'm not sure I fully understand what you mean by a "covenant of blood." Definitely there is a relationship between Christ's shedding of blood and the New Covenant. He confirms the covenant that way (without the death of the testator the covenant isn't in effect). Christ takes the curse upon himself and satisfies God's wrath by the shedding of his blood on the cross. Yes, in that way the New Covenant is definitely a "covenant of blood." Is this all that you mean by that or is there more?

You said "entry into the New Covenant is through salvation." Is it safe to assume then that you believe all who are in the New Covenant are actually saved? This would mean that election and being in the covenant are one and the same thing, correct? I don't see this scripturally. It sounds very appealing at first to say that everyone in the covenant is saved. For a long time I thought this made a lot of sense because it avoided the problem of there ever being an unbeliever inside the covenant. I see hints that you wish to solve this problem that way by your statement later on: "I do not see how a biblical case can be built for baptizing infants, much less any other person who is not born-again." More precisely it's that you don't see how a biblical case can be made for baptizing anyone who doesn't profess faith. Obviously (not all who say to me that day Lord Lord…) not all who profess faith in Christ are really saved and yet they were baptized and received into the visible church. I assume you see the problem this provides for your position that "entry into the New Covenant is through salvation" and yet "baptism is the sign and seal of being a part of or included in the New Covenant." Some unbelievers are obviously going to have the sign and the seal of the New Covenant! How does this reconcile with the fact that only those who are saved enter into the New Covenant?

Paul argues in Romans 4 that Abraham and David were both saved by grace through faith and yet they are Old Testament men. How did they enter the Covenant? It wasn't through "salvation" although that is related, they were in the covenant by virtue of their circumcision. You said: "In the Old Covenant God promised to provide salvation and that salvation was provided through the nation of Israel. In the New Covenant, God provides salvation (a better covenant) and He provides that salvation to individuals." I disagree pretty vehemently with these statements. Salvation was always through faith!!!--through belief in the promise of God. This is evident when Paul argues that Abraham was justified the same way we are in Romans 4. Quite a bit of my argument hinges on that chapter no doubt, but Paul is very clear in it. Please excuse my long quotation but really there is no way one can say that people were saved in any different way in the Old Testament when you read it.

Romans 4 (NKJV)
1 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
Abraham Justified Before Circumcision

9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

I assume you are not really trying to equate being in the nation of Israel in the Old Testament with having faith in the New Testament (which it would seem by the same use of the word "through" which you bolded). God provided salvation through Israel really only in the sense that to them the promise of the Messiah was committed, and the fact that Christ was born a Jew (this is a great advantage to them no doubt). The whole sacrificial system, the law, circumcision, all of that never provided salvation. It pointed to something else, and those who saw what it pointed to were saved by believing in the promises of God just as we are saved today--they looked to Christ just as we do. (If you want to say there is a difference in that they looked forward in time to Christ and we look backward in time to Christ, then I'll grant that difference--is this what you were highlighting by bolding "promised to provide" and "provides" in your quote???).

Individuals are obviously the ones who are saved, I grant that God provides salvation to individuals. Your comment implies more than that though. How was salvation not to individuals in the Old Testament? I fail to see the drastic shift between the testaments from corporate salvation to individual salvation. God has always saved individuals as well as passed down the promises corporately.

:-D I have to smile at your comments about my uncertainty of all the various cases regarding baptism--you've pointed out where I definitely need more study ;-).

"If only members of the covenant are to be baptized, then infants must be members of the covenant. How are they part of the covenant? Since they are too young to possess their own faith, they must have entered the covenant through the faith of their parents. This is unbiblical."
I answer that they enter the covenant by being baptized. This does not mean they are saved, but that to them the promises (the same promises as their parents) are committed. This is biblical because the promises are unto our children as well as us (Acts 2:39).

(I'm paraphrasing Heidelberg Catechism #74 on this one
74. Are infants also to be baptized?
Yes. For since they, as well as their parents, belong to the covenant and people of God, and both redemption from sin and the Holy Ghost, who works faith, are through the blood of Christ promised to them no less than to their parents: they are also by Baptism, as a sign of the covenant, to be ingrafted into the Christian Church, and distinguished from the children of unbelievers, as was done in the Old Testament by Circumcision, in place of which in the New Testament Baptism is appointed.)

If infants are part of the covenant, people for whom Christ shed His blood would end up perishing in hell eternally, since we know there are children born (or adopted) into believing families who do not become born-again. This is unbiblical.
This is only a problem if you equate being in the covenant to election. People are saved within the covenant, but not all who are in the covenant are saved. Not to sound sadistic, but they receive the covenant cursings--not the covenant blessings. Christ shed his blood for his elect from every tribe and nation as you said--not one of them will be lost.
Here I will again point out that credobaptists have this SAME "problem." There is no way for you to look into a person's heart when they "profess" Christ. There will always be tares among the wheat.

If infants are not members of the covenant and we baptize them, then we are giving them the sign and seal of a covenant to which they do not belong. This is unbiblical.
Infants are members of the covenant because unto them the same promises are made. See Heidelberg #74 above.

If infants are legitimately part of the covenant, then the covenant could not be a covenant of salvation, a covenant in blood; in Christ’s shed blood, since infants can’t posses their own faith. This is unbiblical.
It is a covenant of salvation because God has promised to save those who believe, but just not in the sense you've made it that all who are in the covenant are actually saved. Again, I'm not so sure what you mean by a "covenant in blood." Obviously the infants not having faith (or the people that falsely profess faith and receive baptism from your point of view) does not invalidate the promise that Christ's blood propitiates/satisfies for sin. Romans 3:1-4:
1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:

“ That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.”(NKJV)
Just because some infants baptized don't come to a saving faith later on does not mean that the covenant is not for the purpose of saving sinners.

You are right when you say that paedobaptism violates one of your principles; the orthodox view of it is going to violate your first principle because we do not equate salvation or election and being a member of the Covenant. As the Westminster Confession expresses it in Article 25:
1. The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
This of course makes sense as Ishmael and Esau were both in the Covenant and yet were not believers. I also think this makes Christ statements about the vine in John 15 and Paul's statements about olive trees in Romans 11 make a lot more sense without resorting to saying that we can loose our salvation (which the weight of scripture testifies against). If children of believers have the promises committed to them and they are part of the covenant, it only makes sense that they need to take heed to the things which they have heard otherwise they won't be saved.

I've probably rambled on enough for this post, but the more I read this discussion the more I see a different viewing of the covenants in general in the Bible. I'll probably write a whole other blog post of my current views on the covenant (lol, a random side note: I originally created this blog simply to document my own views so I could see how they changed over time and somehow it just became public ;-) ). Some of that material is probably applicable here too.

God Bless!

At 9:23 PM, Blogger delete said...

Hello again, Tim. Sorry for the delayed response. I’m in the process of moving to a different state, so I haven’ had much time to poke around in blogland. As far as your first question, salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Regarding Irenaus’ beliefs regarding baptismal regeneration, I really don’t know. As we translate those ancient writings, sometimes they come out badly. This might or might not be the case. I don’t have the full context. The quote is from the Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, the topic being baptism.

To the charge of arguing from silence, I’ve only seen the outworking of this from the credobaptist side. Clearly children were included in the covenant in OT times. Credobaptists assert that God has changed His administration of who is part of the covenant (i.e., children of believers are no longer members of the covenant). I’m still waiting for the Scriptural evidence of that change.

Also—this is not an argument, just an “it makes you wonder . . .”—why did the first century church forward, for the next 1,600 years, baptize the young? I wonder why there was no dispute? Again, this is not an argument, it’s just a question that comes to mind: Why, if the NT church believed that God changed His mind about having children be part of the covenant, did the next generation—all of the next generation (at least those who are recorded)—revert to believing that He was at least as gracious (speaking as a father here) as He was in the OT?


At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Tim B said...

Hi Shawn,

No problem on the delayed response.

I'm glad to confirm that you do not believe in Baptismal Regeneration (even though I did not think that you did). You might clarify in the future when quoting this passage from Iranaeus.

Of course, Baptismal Regeneration is a serious doctrinal error. That some leaders in the church so quickly fell into this and other errors should answer your question about the practice of Paedo-baptism. Iraneus also believed in a literal 1000 year millenium in the future...must I follow his error because he was closer to the apostle John in history than I was? Simply put; we should not build our doctrine or practice on church history, but on the Word of God alone. Church history proves to be a shaky foundation at best for what we should believe and do as Christians.

Regarding the argument from silence issue, I completely agree in principle. We cannot afford to create a doctrine of baptism on silence. That is my whole point. There is not a single verse anywhere in the Bible that states we should or must baptize infants.

Yes, of course the Old Testament required the circumcision of MALE infants, but if we make that the basis of a New Covenant baptism practice without any verse in the New establishing that link for us, then we would more faithfully end up with a practice of baptizing MALE infants only in the New Covenant wouldn't we?

On the other hand, there are many passages that clearly and specifically link the practice of New Covenant baptism with the faith of the person being baptized. That is no argument from silence and to characterize it as such is to ignore the texts.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Swinder said...

Hey Tim B,

I know Shawn brought up the various church fathers on this and I agree with you that we should not build our practice on that. All it does is serve as a background that the practice isn't something new that we invented. We must base our doctrine on the Bible not on the church fathers.

Perhaps a principle we are all overlooking here is how we interpret scripture. It is a common dispute I have with dispensationalists as to why they assume discontinuity rather than continuity with regard to the testaments. This is backwards. God's redemptive history is progressive; He doesn't simply throw out everything He's said previously and totally rebuild the Covenant of Grace starting in the New Testament.

This being said, the reason we baptize all our children and not just the males is because of a change that is made between the Testaments--the people to whom the promise is proclaimed is now broader. Consider Galatians 3:27-29:

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (NKJV)

This promise does not get narrower in scope (ex. our children are not removed from being included), but instead it gets broader (ex. the Gentiles are now included).

Also, women were most definitely included in the Covenant in the Old Testament, they just don't have the visible sign applied to them. The reason they didn't receive the sign seems pretty obvious to me--how *could* they physically receive the sign? This also shows the broadening of the New Testament when we baptize both our girls and our boys.

As far as your statement about various passages linking baptism to faith in the person baptized, I grant that. Of course, this is to be expected as many new converts to the faith were entering during this time and the church hadn't been established for many generations yet. It seems to me that this is an argument from silence on the part of the Credo-baptist though. Why would the assumption be discontinuity when all of scriptures shows a progressive revelation of Jesus Christ? Unless you can prove discontinuity, the valid question is where is the statement that says our children are not included? In fact, there are examples of household baptisms that show things are continuous with regard to the family and covenant.

It seems to me, that the burden of proof lies on the Credo-baptist to show that the Covenant of Grace has so radically changed in nature that our children are no longer a part of it.



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