I am on vacation in beautiful North Myrtle Beach, SC. Today is the last day. We leave tonight for Louisville and then on to Evansville. I will miss the beach!!
I have begun emailing with a close friend about Baptism. So, I thought I would begin my thoughts here. This first post is rough and raw. It’s the baseline argument for infant baptism. It’s not as nuanced as I would like, but, that will come later, maybe. The point of the following posts hopefully will be to show it’s importance in our culture.
The basic argument from my perspective runs like this:
- God is a covenantal God and works out his will through the work of covenants. The ultimate covenant being that of the new covenant in the person of Jesus. The sign of the covenant began with Abraham as that of circumcision. This was the marker of God’s covenant people and was applied to male infants at eight days old. In Christ the covenant was no longer with an ethnic people and so the marker of the covenant was moved to baptism, this is now the sign of inclusion in the covenant community.
- The NT references to baptism consistently speak of household baptism which is most easily and normally understood to include children.
- Jesus blesses the children.
- There is no statement of change to the inclusion of children in the covenant community. A change this radical would require at the very least Apostolic teaching, if not Messianic teaching.
- Believers children should be baptised as covenantal members of the community of God’s people.
- This in no way means that they are saved, it is simply the outward expression of God’s promise to bring about their salvation and that their parents and the body of believers will bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord believing him in his covenantal faithfulness for their salvation.
The Baptist argument creates a distinction that I do not believe exists in the Bible between Old and New Testament. I believe that it is a coherent whole which builds upon itself and finds culmination in Jesus. The Baptist position seems to argue for a decisive distinction between Old and New where once the NT was complete the OT becomes obsolete and is understood as a relic. That’s a bit over the top, but, well, I am on vacation.
The covenantal understanding of the story of the Bible is the only one that stands up to coherently reading the whole story of God. The Baptist position does great harm to Biblical coherence. In so doing removes the children of believers from the community of God’s people. It also does harm to the significance of communion which is truly the sign, biblically, of the adult who has “searched himself” and partakes with Christ at his table. The Baptist position does harm here as well by making the Communion table something that means little more than a once a month, or so, ritual of saltine scraps and warm juice concentrate.