spinning heads on paedo paddle boats with craedo rutters


Well, today Z and I had a great lunch with a PCA brother at Chama River. Good times. I am always encouraged and amazed by how much we Christian types have in common when you get down to it (contra the world’s perception that we’re all sectarian backbiters). And you guessed it, the issue of Baptism came up. As expected, our brother Mike articulated his position the same way I’ve heard it 20 times now at Wscal and RTS. And as expected, Z and I left thinking…not converting, but needing to do our homework.

So, I want to raise a question to all of you…a simple one that I hope we can discuss with love, honesty, and patience…why do we baptist folk (-ben) believe the way we do? By way of confession, my most difficult issue here is that I can see clarity, continuity and good exegesis on BOTH sides. crap.

Your answer can be simple or complex, but lets stay honest. I’m really curious to hear your thoughts as well as read your resources. Go! Make disciples of all nations…and, well, how do we do what comes next?


29 responses to “spinning heads on paedo paddle boats with craedo rutters

  1. this is a bit odd…i’m sort of making a habit out of answering my own posts, which only serves to confirm your suspicion, i’m still a man in need of a savior (or an only child).

    so, here are two helpful resources thus far (there are a plethora (that’s right el theo-guapo) of books, but who has the time :))

    In the Credo corner: The trusty and true former presbo F. A. Malone: http://www.founders.org/fpress/malone1.html

    In the corner of the Paedo’s, my boy J. R. Nally from III MIL:

    But my favorite quote thus far is from both Z (and now Ra Mclaughlin…III MIL represent):
    Basically, both sides can be argued biblically and
    held by Christians…this is nothing to loose your
    job over bro. Once more, praying for middle gound

  2. Here is a great article from WSCal’s Dennis Johnson as a former credo. More later.

  3. This is just a loose thought (and kind of an inside joke between some of us RTS Orlando types) but maybe a credobaptistic position is the way we can confess in the Nicene Creed that, ” We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

  4. COVENANT!!! So what does everybody think of my come back post. It is one word and concise, and, if I may say so myself, makes my point perfectly. Just kidding, sort of.

    I would recommend, obviously, Kline’s articles on baptism. They are tough slugging, but no matter how you come out in the end you will have interacted with some of the best arguments in the field.



  5. Not to say that I am going to go out proclaiming this on the hilltops just yet, but as you said G. There are a lot of questions and thoughts to think through.

  6. Ok, I’ll add here…

    As I see it (just watched Pratt’s bap video, read a critique of Malone, talked to Randy Booth’s wife (she runs CMF (get the Bahnsen/Stein Debate) and introduced her self…then we found out the providence of her husband Randy converting to Paedo from a RB background) THIS IS A HARD ISSUE. Ha, there’s my genius answer.

    There ARE covenantal RBs…as ben knows, who see the covenant as continuous, with blessings and curses…e.g. the NC can be broken (in a sense…adults can apostizie too), and see the link to circumcision. However, the difference seems to be on exegetical grounds.

    Example, Covenantal RBs interpret the ‘circumcison of the heart’ as the main tie-in to OT Circumcision. Prez/RF see baptims as the fulfillment. SO much good argumentation over types and antitypes.

    I just wanted to throw that out there as I was enlightened recently to the fact that many RBs do see a continuous cov in scrpture with a covenantal community in the NT, just made up of ‘professing believers…’

    Of course, I’m still dealing with this, it seems like the slipperly slope of the RB position is an over-realized eschatology, trying to have only the invisible chruch now, however, it seems that the presbo side can be a bit too inclusive at times. Our buddy mike mentioned the example of a young woman who is mentally ill, she gets covenant benefits, but is she saved (so do those benefits matter in the end)…thus *possibly* leading, VERY RARELY to paedo communion and even a form of sovereign universalism.

    BEWARE…the pitfalls of finite man on both sides…hahahahahahhaha. Consult Van Til (jk)

    sorry for all the spelling mistakes…fast typing is necessary when lunch calls.

  7. Going to RTS-O and being a baptist I have learned that I have had to develop a couple suprises for my Paedo brothers. I can’t just use the traditional baptistic arguments but I have to catch them off gaurd. They have had some unexpected success even with some of the faculty in my opinion.

    1. Steal their arguments and make them yours and just say that its the baptist position. I don’t think they have been equipped to handle baptisterians. They say, ” covenant was made for you and your offspring.” I agree with them. I tell them I expect (not assume) God to work in my childrens life and that they will be covenant members. That doesn’t entail that they have to be baptized as infants. That argument doesn’t go against my children being baptized later in life.

    2. They bring up its God’s profession of His faithfulness over our lives not your profession of your faith. I agree with them again but then I throw out the accusation of simplicity and reductionism. I say why can’t it be both and much more. God didn’t circumcise Abraham, he did it to himself (maybe with the help of Sarah). We can profess and He can profess. Baptism is very pregnant with edification. Again, adopt the view and use it in your argument.

    3. It is a beautiful sign that when we are babies it is God’s unconditional grace upon us in our helpless condition. Again, aren’t we just as helpless when we are older. No reason to baptize infants.

    4. Inconsistancies in their practice. Most of them don’t practice Paedo-communion. So basically the reason why I am a Baptist is for the practical reasons of it and not the inherent theological reasons. I will start to list some of these reasons.

    5. I want it to be an experience for my children as they enter through the waters into the covenant community. I want them to be able to take part in the celebration of Christ’s goodness. It has a sanctifying purpose to it.

    6. Historically there have been reservations about baptizing infants. Tertullian questioned the practice because people do not understand the convenant blessings and curses that are involved with it. They need to understand this in conjunction with baptism.

    7. I think immersion is more biblical (but not concretely), but even more experientally edifying then sprinkling. Your are being immersed in the Church. You are being immersed in Christ. Jesus condescended in His baptism to be immersed in our sinful lives (Mark 1). We leave the old world completely and come up to a new one.

    8. In some of the NT historical books I have read, I have seen baptismal fonts from ancient Mediteranean culture. They look like they were for immersion.

    In the end, I try to show why my view is inclusive of their view but shows why it is more practical and wholistic. I have been crafting this and meditating on it a little bit and think it is a little more ecumenical in nature. Which is good because I go to Reformed Baptist church that also has Paedo elders. We are Schizo. Let me know what you guys think.

  8. J-man…will you be my pastor. I love you.

    As mentioned, I need to do WAY more study on this, but its cool to see that there are many solid covenantal baptist positions. This is what you never hear at presbo sems…ps, you never hear good paedo arguements from most baptists either.

    In the end, I’ll need to do more exegesis on this point, but I tend to very much agree with all of what you’ve said J. Mostly, I agree that the covenantal blessings are there, regardless of the when the sacrament is applied, and that there is both/and wisdom in waiting. This is the same thing we do when our 4 year old ‘prays the prayer,’ we trust, love and guide them, but we don’t give them the pulpit right away.

    On the other hand, I’d love to hear a paedo response to this. Remember, Richter is taking a mediating view, not as hard core as Fred Malone, but no where near accepting of the Paedo-communion camp.

    Educate me.

  9. It has been mentioned time and time again that we need to do better exegesis, and Greg pointed out that any conclusion to this debate will be decided upon exegetical grounds, as should all ecclesiastically concerned debates. Now I will admit that I am no exegete so I will not wonder to far down this road, but I would like to point out a couple observations.

    First, Richter I stand in awe of the philosophical genius your line of thought has developed, and I will not pretend to be able to scale such a large intellectual mountain. But I have to ask where is the exegesis. You have a very sophisticated argument intermingling many different fields of thought, but I fail to see the exegetical significance this has for understanding baptism clearly as revealed in Scripture. It appears to simply be an attempt at stumping the paedo, which I may be stumped but not convinced.

    In the end, to me, you have just repackaged baptist thought in paedo language. This way you can have the benefits without the practice. Being paedo I will say you can’t have the blessing without the seal, or if you can show me is Scripture where that idea is revealed.

    How can any craedo, explain that the OT develops one idea of covenant and who it extends to, but then, at the drop of a hat, change this idea without explanation. With everything the first Christians got wrong they somehow perfectly understood the change from offspring involvment in the covenant to not; therefore, not requiring any detailed explanation of this development. That does not make sense, and yes I know that this argument is not exegetical either, but it is I think warranted.

    Good thoughts I just don’t see how it actually changes the lines it just tries to make them blurry, but if I am misunderstanding or confusing the arguments I am sorry. As I said I could not even imagine climbing such a massive mountain.

  10. carp ben…poly carp that is…he lived to be 4 score and a few years…and was saved as long as he could remember…that is, since he was baptized as a pimple faced adolescent in the youth group πŸ˜‰

    I’m torn…signs, seals…on and on. Again, I think Richter’s argument is built, in some sense, off of Fred Malone’s (former prez, but nohwere near as hot as KLINE…OPC forever) that the seal of the NC is the circumcision of the heart.

    Romans 2:29 says circumcision of the is heart by the Spirit, and not the written code (think ANE treaty document).

    1 Cor 7:19, circumcision is nothing (that is, the physical cutting), but the keeping of commandments is what ‘counts,’ that is, proves our justificd state and entitles us to the specific blessings of the NC, the sacraments.

    Gal 5:6, again, not outward signs and seals but the already present working of the spirit?

    Phil 3:3, we, who, the people Paul is writing to, the believers at Phil, ARE the circumcision, why, because we exult in Christ…can an unregenerate person do this?

    Col 2:11, which should be in familiar context…and yes, I believe baptism is essential for the believer, but it may not be the same ‘outward’ sign as circ. was since, as we know, Jesus has made things of the law and covenants internal whence they were once external.

    OK, help me out here guys. AND so far so good on keeping this civil. This is HARD and very personal…to both parties, so lest keep up a spirit of prayer and love.

  11. Calling all baptists . . . why did the Abrahamic covenant include the offspring?

  12. This is taken from a lecture by Dr. Chapell from Covenant TS.

    The Covenant Sign

    After God made the covenant with Abraham to bless him and his descendents by grace through faith, God provided a covenant sign to both mark those who were recipients of his promise and to signify his pledge to provide for those who had faith in him. It is important to remember that the sign was given after the covenant was made and was neither a pre-condition of the covenant nor a means of conferring it. Faith was and is the sole condition of knowing the blessings of God’s covenant.

    The sign of circumcision

    The covenant sign that God gave the Old Testament people was circumcision. The removal of the foreskin from the male reproductive organ both signified the removal of spiritual uncleanness from God’s people of faith, and communicated that God’s provision for blessing was being passed to all the children of Abraham from generation to generation (cf. Genesis 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4; Colossian 2:13). Circumcision marked God’s people as being separated and consecrated unto him and, consequently, as being in being in union with him and with each other in covenant family and community relationships (Exodus 12:48; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; 9:26). The rite of circumcision necessarily involved the shedding of blood, and was one of numerous Old Testament signs that prefigured what would be required of Christ in order for our sins to be removed (cf. Hebrews 9:22).

    The extent of the sign

    Because God’s promises extended to Abraham’s house, he was to devote all that he had to the Lord by use of the covenant sign. This meant that all who were part of Abraham’s household in that ancient society were to be devoted to God by circumcision B sons, dependent relatives and servants (Genesis 17:23; cf. Exodus 12:43-48). In contemporary culture we are not accustomed to thinking of the head of a household as spiritually representing of all its dependent members. Still, the representative role of heads of households has great scriptural precedent and rich implications in both the Old and New Testament (cf. Ephesians 5:25-27; Hebrews 11:7).

    The representative principle helps explains why Abraham devoted all in his house to God through the use of the Old Testament covenant sign even though not all would have yet expressed his faith. Abraham recognized his need as the head of a household to honor the Lord’s promise to be the God of him and his family. The representative principle also explains why, in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul could still say that children of a believing parent ( even one who is married to a non-believer ) are holy before God (1 Corinthians 7:14). Few verses in Scripture more forcefully indicate that God communicates his grace to children while in the household of a covenant parent. Scripture does not contend that an adult who has turned from his parent’s faith can presume to receive the eternal salvation promised through Abraham’s covenant but, while children remain under the authority of a believing parent, they are represented covenantally by that parent’s faith.

    Head of house representation also explains why the practice of circumcision was not an indication that women were excluded from the covenant. Both through the act of procreation and through the representative principle implied by circumcision, the rite showed that the covenant promises were extended to all in the house regardless of biology or gender. An adopted child of either gender or, even, a dependent servant had equal spiritual standing with a biological son through the representative principle circumcision signified. The ancient people were slow to realize these spiritual implications but the New Testament drives home the meaning: AYou are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ. If you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:28-29).

    Still we must answer the question why the covenant sign was administered to those who had not yet expressed faith in God’s provision. Since the covenant was made to express God’s blessings to those who placed their faith in him, and since the covenant could only be experienced through faith, then why did God tell Abraham to circumcise all in his household even before they knew of God’s covenant of faith. Even if all of Abraham’s house could have heard of God’s provision and placed their faith in him, no one would expect all of Abraham’s descendents to put their faith in God by the time they were eight days old and required to be circumcised (Genesis 17:12). Why then was the covenant sign commanded for all?

    The relationship of sign and seal

    The answer to why those saved through faith alone throughout Scripture were still allowed to be circumcised as children (i.e., prior to their ability to express their faith) has important implications for administering the covenant sign to infants today. Does the requirement of faith for salvation preclude the possibility of administering a covenant sign to the children of believers? It did not in the Old Testament practice of circumcision, and the New Testament tells us why. The Apostle Paul says in the book of Romans that circumcision was a seal as well as a sign of the righteousness Abraham had by faith (Romans 4:11). Both terms have important significance for our understanding of the application of covenant sacraments.

    We easily understand how circumcision was a sign of righteousness provided through God’s covenant. The significance of putting off uncleanness by the shedding of blood, and marking the faithful as God’s special people resonates with many familiar New Testament concepts. However, the concept of a seal is less familiar to us in today’s culture.

    The image the apostle calls to mind with his seal terminology is of the wax affixed to a letter or document that was marked with a signet ring (or other instrument) to authenticate the source and validity of the contents of the document. The seal acted as a visible pledge of the author of the letter to honor what he had covenanted to do in the document when the conditions it described were met. Circumcision was God’s way of marking his people as his visible pledge to honor his covenant for those who expressed faith in him. Just as a seal is the pledge of its author that he will uphold his promises when described conditions are met, circumcision was God’s pledge to provide all the blessings of his covenant when the condition of faith was met in his people. Our faith does not actuate or cause God’s covenant to extend to us he chose us in him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) but expressed faith claims (and lives out) the covenant blessings God provides by his grace and pledges with his seal.

    The validity of a seal is not dependent upon the time that the conditions of the covenant accompanying it are met. Like the seal of a document, the seal of circumcision could be applied long before recipients of promised and signified blessings met the conditions of the covenant. The seal was simply the visible pledge of God that when the conditions of his covenant were met, the blessings he promised would apply (cf. Rom. 4:11). For this reason God did not require that covenant parents wait until a child could express faith before commanding them to administer the covenant sign and seal of circumcision.

    C. The Covenant Continuation

    The New Testament apostles and writers take much care to let us know that the covenant of faith principles remains in effect for us. When Peter preaches on the day of Pentecost, he says to his thousands of Jewish listeners, ARepent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgivenY. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:28-39). Peter frames his call to salvation in Christ in covenantal terms by speaking of a promise that applies to his listeners and to their children as well as to others who are yet far off. The apostle presumes that God continues to relate to us as individuals and as families B that the covenant principles are still in effect. Individuals (even in covenant families) are still responsible to express their personal faith, but God continues to work out his gracious promises in families as well as extending the covenant to others.

    The Apostle Paul is more explicit about the continuation of the Abrahamic covenant and proclaims, AThose who believe are the children of Abraham@ (Galatians 3:7). He goes on to say that the law of Moses Adoes not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promiseY. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise@ (Galatians 3:17 & 29).

    God’s promise to Abraham to save those who have faith in heaven’s provision remains in effect. Never do any come to God based upon their merit or because they have passed through some ritual. Both the Old and the New Testament affirm God’s continuing covenant promise to Abraham to bless people by divine grace through faith.

    D. The Covenant Sign Change

    While the covenant continues, its sign changes to reflect what God has done to maintain his promises. The bloody sign of circumcision that prefigured the shedding of Christ’s blood no longer remains appropriate after the Lamb of God has shed his blood once for all in order to remove our sin (cf. Hebrews 10:10; 1 Peter 1:18). Therefore, New Testament believers receive a new sign for the covenant that indicates what Christ has accomplished for them. Baptism with water is the sign of the washing away of our sin (cf. Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 9:14).

    Those who continue to require circumcision as a requirement of God’s covenant are condemned by the apostle who says, AFor in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love (Galatians 5:6). Circumcision no longer remains a requirement for those who desire to obey God (1 Corinthians 7:18-19). However, baptism is now required of all those who desire to obey Christ and express their faith in him men and women, Jew and Gentile (cf. Acts 2:38; 8:12; 10:47-48).

    While the sign of the covenant changes, the features of the covenant of faith do not. God continues to express his love to those who have faith in him, and as a result all believers share in the covenant God prepared for Israel through Abraham (Ephesians 3:6). The promises continue to be extended through parents to their children (Acts 2:38-39) with the ordinary condition remaining that these children must ultimately express their own faith in Christ in order to reap the full blessings of the covenant.

    Emphasizing the continuity of the covenant as well as the changed nature of the sign that accompanies it, the Apostle Paul writes to the Colossian believers, AIn him [Christ] 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, have been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead@ (Colossians 2:11-12). These words remind us that salvation that comes through faith, and also that the rite of circumcision that once signified the benefits of Abraham’s covenant has been replaced by baptism.

    Since the covenant remains but the sign changes, New Testament believers would naturally expect to apply the new sign of the covenant to themselves and their children as they had the old. Since the old sign was applied to children prior to their ability to express personal faith, there would be no barrier to applying the new sign prior to a child’s personal profession of faith in Christ. Baptism would function both as a sign and a seal of the household’s faith in Christ. As a seal, baptism would indicate the visible pledge of God that when the conditions of his covenant were met, the promised blessings would apply.

    II. The Biblical Basis for Infant Baptism

    What evidence is there in the Bible that New Testament parents applied the sacrament of baptism to their children with the understanding that the covenant with Abraham remained in effect with a changed sign? Biblically minded Christians rightly want to see scriptural confirmation of their churches’ practices. Thus, we who believe in infant baptism must confess that we feel keenly the significance of not reading of a single, named child being baptized in the New Testament. Lack of this specific piece of evidence is a strong counterweight to our position. Conscientious Christians who object to infant baptism are not necessarily being superficial, ignorant or mean-spirited. However, the Church would not have argued the issues surrounding infant baptism for centuries were answers always obvious. What Presbyterians hope believers will see in the absence of a named infant being baptized is how strong the other biblical evidences must be to have kept this covenant practice dominant in the worldwide Christian church since the earliest centuries.

    I really relate to you G. This is a topic that my wife and I have gone back in forth on. I do see a valid arguement to both sides and this topic has really torn my heart in two, but as I told you today G. My studying has been primarily one sided, and though I would sway more towards a paedo confession I must pose the question our Pastor asked me… at what point do I consider it sin that I have not practiced what my heart leans towards?…

    I (selfishly) would like to see this discussion continue as I am seeking a true biblical answer to all the questions that have been posed.

    I too ask as Ben… why did the Abrahamic cov. include the mini(s)?

  13. Amen B-LO.

    Quickly I wold like to bring up Richter’s use of Turtullian as an early Church Father who opposed infant baptism, which is true. I was thinking about this question this morning, its funny how much a little blog can invade your thoughts, and realized that using Turtullian may be a little suspect because of some other positions he held. Keep in mind that during Turtullian’s time the growing perception of baptism was that it wiped your slate clean; therefore, any sins you committed after baptism would tarnish this purity that who where given. This position would most certainly affect the idea of baptizing children because by doing so they are condemned, in a sense, to attempt to live without sin. Second, Turtullian view of the church most certainly affected his idea of baptism because he held to a “Rigorist” who believed the church was made up of only saved people separated from sin. These positions would of had significant consequences to his view of baptism.

    Sorry for any incoherence I have the flu right now so my head is a little fuzzy.

  14. Sorry I haven’t had time to respond to anything and sorry I still don’t have much time to respond as I want. Yeah, of course the contemporary Church has nearly completely different ideas about Baptism then back then. That is why I am not very dogmatic about baptism in general. If I was then I would have to condemn almost every one of the heroes of the faith including Augustine. Furthermore, I would be condemned because my view is probably more more jacked up then theirs. Atleast we can call all agree on Baptismal regeneration right?

  15. For sure . . . if the water didn’t save us what else could?

  16. Any of you guys checked out the new Kanye record? Oh wait… sorry

    My mind is completely jacked up right now on this issue. I can’t get the “promise is for you and your children” out of my head. Why would the NT covenant sign be harder and more exclusive than the OT one? Tough questions… but I don’t have time to study this one right now. Biblical Theology is on the brain… I guess that means I’ll probably go paedo right? πŸ™‚ For now I’m just glad Ben is miles away from my 9 month old…

    Like J-Rict, I’m not going to get my undies up in my crack over this one. Same with eschatology…Good to think though, but I can see strengths and weakness of different positions.

    I remember listening to the above Piper sermon many years ago and thinking it was good. Check it out.

  17. One more to think about:

    How would the first Christians that were Jewish not known to apply the sign of entrance into the covenant community? It shows a mindset that the family is to be presented to the Lord.

    They would have needed to be told NOT to do it.


  18. From the above link – Piper writes:

    Now what relevance does Romans 4:11 have here? Let me quote from a letter -a very good letter (in spirit and content) – that I received from a defender of infant baptism after I preached my messages on baptism in the spring of 1997. He lamented that I had not dealt with Romans 4:11. Here’s why: “For me Romans 4:11 is the ‘linchpin’ in the doctrine of paedobaptism [infant baptism]. Pull it out, and the whole doctrine falls.”

    Now what is it that he and others see here that makes this verse so compelling in defense of infant baptism? I’ll try to explain. Let’s look at the text. In verse 9 Paul reminds us that “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” That is he was justified, and got right with God through faith alone. Then verse 10 points out that this happened before Abraham was circumcised. “How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.” The point is that Abraham’s justification was not brought about through circumcision, which came later, but through faith alone.

    Then comes the crucial verse 11 which functions as a kind of definition of circumcision: “He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised.” So Abraham’s circumcision is described here as “a sign . . . a seal of the righteousness of faith.”

    Now why is this important? It’s important because it gives a spiritual meaning to circumcision that is like the meaning of baptism in the New Testament – “a sign and seal of the righteousness of faith.” We say that baptism is an expression of genuine faith and the right standing with God that we have by faith before we get baptized. This seems to be what circumcision means too, according to Paul in Romans 4:11. Circumcision is a sign and seal of a faith that Abraham had before he was circumcised.

    So you see what that means? If circumcision and baptism signify the same thing – namely genuine faith – then you can’t use this meaning of baptism by itself as an argument against baptizing infants, because circumcision was given to infants. In other words, you can’t simply say, “Baptism is an expression and sign of faith; infants can’t have faith; therefore don’t baptize infants. You can’t simply say this, because Romans 4:11 says that circumcision means the same thing – a sign of faith – and it was given to infants.

    This is why Romans 4:11 is considered by some as the linchpin of the defense of infant baptism. It defines circumcision in a way that gives it the same basic meaning as baptism, and yet we know from Genesis 17 that circumcision was appointed by God for the infants of all Jewish people.

  19. Z,

    your second posts hits the nail on the head. I tried to make reference to that thought earlier, but lo and behold and am not very good at being clear to poignant, which your comment does so well.

  20. Ben,

    Sorry it took me awhile to give you real response to your comments. I have been really busy with marriage, school, and work. I think I need to clarify some things. Really when it comes down to it, I am not dressing up baptist thought in paedo language. In fact, I am doing the opposite. Let me demonstrate with your question of why do baptist change in the covenant perspective so radically? What ever happened to covenant children? Ben, I think you are dealing with a false dichotomy. Paedo’s have a continuation of covenant thought and Craedos have a discontinuation. I disagree that it has to be black and white. It should be seen on a spectrum. Why can’t I as a Craedo expect (again, not assume) God to work through my children. What is there in the New Testament that depicts when a child should be baptized. We know certainly that Baptism is not perfectly equal to Circumcision although they are both covenant signs. As a Craedo I am just delaying when I want to have my children take on the sign. Like I said in my previous post, its not so much the theological reasons why I want my children to be baptized post infancy, but practical reasons. I want it to be special for them. I want them to experience it. I want them to join with the Church. I want some cognition involved, even if its not full cognition (which is relative thing). I think God does work through covenant families, I just hold a higher view of baptism then some Paedo’s I know. So I think I can be both Craedo and have covenant continuation.

    Another thing that I have been thinking about is how Craedo most Paedos are when it comes to adult convert baptism. In most cases that I have observed or heard about how new believers are not instantly baptized upon the first profession of faith. On the contrary, they go through a process of interviews and meetings with elders to make sure they have credible profession of faith. Why is this necessary when not everyone with the covenant sign is really part of the covenant people anyway. This sounds suspiciously baptist to me. They should be baptizing people on a whim or be giving interviews to their infants. Update: After thinking about this, I realize that there is some what of a difference between being born into the covenant and coming into the covenant. More thought on this is needed.

    Lastly, the reason why we don’t see any example of children being baptized is because the NT is focusing on new converts. The A Priori understanding of scripture is that there are supposed to be a lot of new adult converts. So if we share the same world view as scripture we should all look like more like Craedos. Unfortunately its a sad day when there is a thirty to one ratio on children to adult baptisms.*

    Anyways, I hope some of that clarifies what I mean. I think I am taking Paedo ideas and Craedoizing it. The reason why Paedos have a hard time with the baptisterian view is because it shares many of the same arguments that they do but attempts to expand and make it more holistic. Hopefully this is clear. I am super tired and I think I’m going to sleep. I love you guys.

    Traditional Baptistic View= Possible over realized eschatology
    Traditional Paedo View= Possible under realized eschatology
    Traditional Baptisterian View= Some where in the middle?

    *This was a completely arbitrary statistic I made up.

  21. Guys, I want to thank you all again for your comments here. As I’ve continued to study this out I’m humbled by how many heros I have on both sides of the line. Here are a few closing thoughts for us all (ps, I’ve typed up a word doc with some more in depth stuff, but I’ll spare you unless you want it):

    1, Both credo and paedo baptists CAN take a covenantal view of baptsim in the NT.
    2, As Ben rightly stated, this issue centers around the idea of the covenant of grace, its exact outworkings, continuity, and any/all changes that took place in palestine around 30ad. This makes the issue a very complicated one, but also drives us all back to the scriptures for an answer.
    3, Extremes can be taken on either side, as Justin reiterated, with many baptists failing to understand their over-realized eschatology, and some presbos delving into paedo communion. These, however, do not represent the norms of good scholarship that I’ve seen.
    4, As Ryan K reminded me a few nights ago, it is of utmost importance to read good scholars on both sides. I realized at that moment that I haven’t really read much on either side, so I must honestly confess my ignorance.
    5, Finally, brothers, let us continue to spur each other on in love and grace…let us help each other learn the word more deeply as we strive to think God’s interpretive thoughts after him (not our own). Thanks for this discussion. I have much more to ponder now.

    Love you guys a lot.


  22. First off, much love to my paedo-baptist brothers and sisters! As others have said, I have appreciated the civil tone of this discussion.

    Ben and Bryan, I’m coming to this conversation late (maybe even after it has finished!), but as a Biblically persuaded credo-baptist who has read and thought seriously about the arguments for paedobaptism, I wanted to answer your question about Abraham and the offspring. Romans 9:6-13, Galatians 3:15-19, and Galatians 3:26-29 deal with this question well. The true “children of Abraham,” those who are to be counted as his true “offspring,” are clearly described in the above Biblical passages as being those who are in Christ by faith, not by virtue of ethnic or familial lineage (even the lineage of having been born into a Christian family and raised by Christian parents). This Scriptural reality is laid out in Romans 9:6-9. “The children of the promise are counted as offspring.” As the book of Galatians shows later, these “children of the promise” have not only been baptized into Christ, they and have “put him on” in faith. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

    These are my questions, from one brother in Christ to my other brothers (and I ask them in genuine love). Has a baptized infant, born in sin as we all are, actually “put on Christ,” in the way in which the above verse describes? Can this infant be described as belonging to Christ, in the terms of Galatians 3:29, which specifically pertain to being saved by God and brought into His family? If not, why should said infant be baptized? Given that baptism is a sign and a seal that symbolizes both God’s washing away of the believer’s sins by Christ’s blood, and the believer’s being raised to new life, as Christ was raised from the dead, how then can this sign and seal be applied to an infant, born in sin, of whom we have no idea if he/she will ever repent of his/her sins? As I wrote above, Galatians 3:27 specifically ties together being baptized into Christ and putting on Christ. Those who are baptized into him have put him on. With this Biblical understanding, how can we baptize an infant– any infant, even one born to Christian parents– who has not yet put Christ on, in the way that the Bible describes?

    Also, as Fred Malone (a former Presbyterian) writes in his section of Why I Am A Baptist (a great book for carefully thinking over what the Bible has to say on this topic– and yes, one should definitely read the capable paedobaptist arguments from the other side of this discussion), “In Hebrews 8:8, the new covenant of Jesus Christ is defined as including regenerate forgiven members alone, not believers and their children.” Should we then be applying to the sign of the new covenent to those whom we are unsure actually belong to it? Also, Malone writes, “Infant baptism is based by inference on a final Old Testament authority over the New Testament.” Would this not be a curious inference for a Christian to make, given that it is a general Biblical principle that the Old Testament, ultimately, must be read and understood in light of the New Testament? Lastly, Malone states, “Infant baptism violates the regulative principal of worship, cherished
    by Presbyterians and Baptists alike, which maintains that ordinances must be instituted by revelation, not by inference from the Old Testament.” Again, Malone is a former Presbyterian, so he knows of what he speaks. I would love to read and interact with any of your responses to this post. Grace and peace to each of you in Jesus Christ’s glorious name!

  23. Oh, to introduce myself to those on the blog who don’t know me, I’m Chris, an ordinary layman of Desert Springs Church, with absolutely no formal seminary training– yet! πŸ™‚

  24. Sorry– in my first post, I meant to type Hebrews 8:8-12, referring to the new covenant, not just 8:8!

  25. Chris, great thoughts man…seriously, much appreciated. I am glad you are on here and are showing love to all the bros.

    Ben, I want to thank you again for your honest thoughts and responses. I know you’re super busy man. Thanks for making us thing.

    As Z and I talked about this morning, we’re all covenantal here, we all see continuity, we all see the out-working of the kingdom now and not yet, we all the ties between OT shadows and NT realities, we all agree that ‘essential’ nature of the covenant of grace is unchanged, and that the NT is FAR more inclusive that the OT (just think, going from geo-political familial boundaries to the ends of the earth). Basically, we agree on just about everything but a handful of passages. We MUST keep doing exegesis on these and be firm in our own convictions. However, I contend, based on the spirit of the entire NT, especially Acts, that this (and every) discussion must drive us into more humility and more of a heart for the lost.

    Thanks guys. Everyone of us should read:

    Paedo: Kline (by oath consigned), Murray, Strawbrdige and Booth.

    Cred: Malone, Welty, Jewett, Schreiner

    Once we’ve done that, then we’ll be humble and educated enough to discuss this again.

  26. Thanks for the helpful thoughts on this issue, Greg. We must indeed have humility on this issue, and on non-essential theological issues in general. I appreciate your heart in these discussions, brother!

    Something that might be of interest to you– in the book that I mentioned above, Why I Am A Baptist (edited by Tom Nettles and Russell Moore), Michael Lawrence, one of the associate pastor/elders at my former church, lays out and interacts with Kline’s argument concerning paedobaptism. At one time, Michael was very, very close to being an ordained associate pastor in the PCA, but God brought about an amazing turn of circumstances that blocked his ordination, gave him m0re time to study Scripture, and ultimately led him back to the credo-baptist position. That section of the book is wild to read! Also, Wayne Grudem, in his section of the book, writes of his time wrestling with, and coming to a conclusion on, the paedobaptist arguments in John Murray’s book, Christian Baptism. Just wanted to give you a heads-up on some material that has been very helpful to me! NOT that I am saying that we should just read secondary sources regarding an issue, rather than the primary ones– far from it. I do intend to read more of the paedobaptist authors themselves on this issue. Thanks for the discussion, and the grace and humility displayed in it, guys!

  27. I feel like the new kid in class. I have got a lot to learn to keep up with you guys and hope we become good friends in the process! Piper’s work “Brother’s, We are Not Professionals” has a great chapter on this issue called, “Brother’s, Magnify the Meaning of Baptism”. Not too scholarly, but exegetically and pastorally solid! I once served in a church where we practiced both. I served there long enough to sprinkle and dunk the same kids. I don’t recommend that.

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