There isn’t much to discuss from Chapter 7 which is on some New Testament foundation for paedobaptism. 1 Corinthians 7:14 comes up as well as Ephesians 6:1-4 and Colossians 3:20 which are the passages in which Paul addresses children in his letters. Nothing really noteworthy to discuss.
Much of this chapter reiterates already established points from earlier chapters such as the membership of the New Covenant. It is worth noting that Crampton discusses the distinction between Israel in a physical aspect and the spiritual one. Such as promises made of a physical land which was to be passed from generation to generation, but at the same time there were spiritual promises made to the true church within the Abrahamic Covenant. Status into this covenant was granted to persons without regard to their spiritual condition.
Crampton takes and excellent quote from Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology well worth posting. Grudem states,
We should not be surprised that there was a change from the way the covenant community was entered in the Old Testament (physical birth) to the way the church is entered in the New Testament (spiritual birth). There are many analogous changes between the Old and New Covenants in other areas as well. While the Israelites fed on physical manna in the wilderness, New Testament believers feed on Jesus Christ, the true bread that comes down from heaven (John 6:48-51). The Israelites drank physical water that gushed from the rock in the wilderness, but those who believe in Christ drink of the living water of eternal life that He gives (John 4:10-14). The Old Covenant had a physical temple to which Israel came to worship, but in the New Covenant believers are built into a spiritual temple (1 Peter 2:5). Old Covenant believers offered physical sacrifices of animals and crops upon an altar, but New Testament believers offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5; confirm Hebrews 13:15-16). Old Covenant believers received from God the physical land of Israel which He had promised to them, but New Testament believers receive “a better country, that is a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16). In the same way, in the Old Covenant those who were the physical seed or descendants of Abraham were members of the people of Israel, but in the New Testament those who are the spiritual “seed” or descendants of Abraham by faith are members of the church (Galatians 3:29; confirm Romans 4:11-12).
In all these contrasts we see the truth of the distinction that Paul emphasizes between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. The physical elements and activities of the Old Covenant were “only a shadow of what is to come.” but the true reality, the “substance,” is found in the New Covenant relationship we have in Christ (Colossians 2:17). Therefore, it is consistent with this change of systems that infant (male) children would automatically be circumcised in the Old Covenant, since their physical presence in the community of Jewish people meant that they were members of that community in which faith was not an entrance requirement. But in the New Covenant it is appropriate that infants not be baptized, and that baptism only be given to those who give evidence of genuine saving faith, because membership in the church is based on an internal spiritual reality, not on physical descent.
So there is continuity and discontinuity within the covenants.
Chapter 9 is full of great information so ibid, ibid, ibid. I believe this chapter conveys the greatest arguments against the paedobaptist position.
When taking all of what the WCF and the Catechisms have to say on the sacraments, such as the seals “confirm our interest in him”, and baptism is “to be a sign and seal of engrafting into Himself, of remission of sins by His blood, and regeneration by His Spirit; of adoption and resurrection unto everlasting life”,you would have to say that from a biblical standpoint it is not reasonable to say that an infant’s baptism confirms his interest in Christ, that he’s been engrafted into Christ, has remission of his sins, is regenerate, is to be considered an adopted child of God and is one who has been promised a resurrection unto eternal life.
Crampton gets into discussing the Covenant of Grace. This would be defined as the covenant which God eternally made with Christ and all of the elect in Him. The Larger Catechism question 162 says that, “a sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his His church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of His mediation.” Now explain this, if water baptism is a sign that one is in the covenant of grace (if this is what the definition truly means, as perhaps this could be pointing toward the benefits rather than that one possesses the benefits) why administer the sacrament to an infant incapable of professing faith? If it is a seal, which attests to that truth that they are within the covenant, how could you apply this to infants (unless it is only a seal to the true elect)?
Are children, infants, members of the Covenant of Grace? You cannot say yes, that they are elect and in the Covenant of Grace without believing in presumptive regeneration. Herman Bavinck says,
For no one can deny baptism to children except he think that they stand outside the covenant of grace… Whoever administers baptism… to children acknowledges that they are in the covenant [of grace] and share all the benefits of it.”
The Heidelberg Catechism says children of believing parents are “in God’s covenant [of grace] and are His people.”
Here is something I found interesting as well. Observe how Geerhardus Vos discusses this,
There are two phases of the Covenant of Grace, (a) a legal or external phase, and (b) a vital or spiritual phase. We may think of these two phases as two circles, one within the other – an outer and an inner circle. Every child born of believing parents is in the outer circle, the legal or external sphere of the Covenant of Grace. But only those truly born again are in the inner circle, the vital or spiritual sphere of the Covenant of Grace. Some people born in the external sphere the outer circle, are non-elect persons and never come to Christ. Every one that is of the elect will, at some time in his life come into the inner circle, the vital or spiritual sphere.
Now I have great respect for Vos, but here he just redefined the Covenant of Grace to meet his presupposition that infants of believing parents are in the covenant and should be baptized! Now he says the Covenant of Grace includes the non-elect. If the Covenant of Grace is with the elect in Christ, then there cannot be an external aspect to it.
In respect to children being within the “covenant community”, Crampton makes a very nice point on page 96,
…there is a sense in which one may speak of the children of believers who attend the worship services, who are taught the Bible by their parents and church officers, etc., as being in a “covenant community” (Were not the “uncircumcised” female children under the Old Covenant part of a “covenant community”?). In the same sense non-believers who attend the worship services on a regular basis, who listen to the message preached, etc., are also in a “covenant community.” This says nothing, however, with regard to the baptism of such “covenant community” persons. Baptism symbolizes new birth, not merely membership in a “covenant community.”
One last thing I wish to note from reading this book is that there is a lack of mention of the regular practice of baptizing infants in the early post-apostolic writings. They all seem to speak of confessor baptism. Some of these are the Epistle of Barnabas (c. AD 120-130), The Shepard of Hermas (c. AD 150), Justin Martyr (c. AD 150), and the Didache (c. AD 90-125). Then there is Tertullian which spoke as an opponent of infant baptism (which also makes known it was being practiced at this time). Venema states that,
It is indeed certain, that Paedobaptism was practiced in the second century; yet so, that it was not the custom of the church, nor the general practice; much less was it generally esteemed necessary that infants should be baptized…Tertullian [200 A.D.] has nowhere mentioned Paedobaptism among the traditions of the church, nor even among the custom of the church that were publicly received and usually observed, nay, he plainly intimates, that in his time it was yet a doubtful affair. For in his book On Baptism (chapter 18), he dissuades from baptizing babies, and proves by certain reasons that the delay of it to a more mature age is to be preferred; which he certainly would not have done, if it had been a tradition and a public custom of the church, seeing he was very tenacious of traditions; nor had it been a tradition, would he have failed to mention it… It is manifest, therefore that nothing was then determined concerning the time of baptism; nay, he judged it safer that unmarried persons should defer their baptism… Nothing can be affirmed with certainty, concerning the custom of the church before Tertullian; seeing there is not anywhere in more ancient writers, that I know of, undoubted mention of baby baptism.
I would highly recommend this book for an excellent view of the credobaptist position.