Here is my first attempt at responding to my own posts regarding my reviews of “From Paedobaptism to Credobaptism”. The overall summary of each post will address every instance of objection in the reviews. My goal is to try to keep the post flowing rather than fragmented statements responding to each point without informing you which point I’m addressing. You can follow along concurrently with the review posts which correspond to each response. This will be a response to the first review. Also, I would like to state that some of what I mention in these post come from conversations between myself and other brothers of mine so I can’t claim all the credit for what is written.
I’m not quite certain that it is possible to assert that there are no examples of infants baptized in the New Testament. However, let us say that there are none. What does that demonstrate? It only demonstrates that there are no examples. However, we cannot derive a universal assertion from particular premises, can we?
To illustrate this similarly, take for instance Americans. There are no examples in the New Testament of Americans being baptized. However, we reason that if Americans can be church members; then they can also be baptized.
For there to be other reasons for baptizing an infant does not negate that there is a true reason for doing so. For example, you cannot reason that because some people use their steak knives to murder and harm people that you cannot use steak knives to properly cut your steak.
The reasoning is as follows:
1. All church members are to be baptized.
2. Infants of church members are church members.
3. Therefore, infants of church members are to be baptized.
The male children of believers in the Old Testament received the sign of the covenant (circumcision), and given the lack of any apostolic teaching to indicate New Testament children of believers should NOT receive the sign of the New Covenant (baptism), combined with the corroborating evidences that such children WERE to receive that sign (Acts 2:39; 16:31-32; 1 Cor. 7:14; Matt. 28:19-20), combined with the strong evidence of church history that the earliest Christians did indeed baptize their infants, convinces me that Christians are to baptize their children (as Christ’s disciples) in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The idea that the young children of Christians are to be accorded a status in the church equal to unbelieving pagans is foreign to the New Testament.
Baptism is to the New Testament, what circumcision was to the Old Testament. Because the children of believers are covenant members they are to be given the covenant sign of baptism, just as they were previously given the covenant sign of circumcision.
In the Old Testament, when an adult joined the covenant community (visible church), their children joined with them, so received the sign of the covenant (circumcision).
Similarly, today when an adult joins the covenant community (visible church), their children join with them, so receive the sign of the covenant (baptism).
It is true that the majority of the baptisms recorded in the New Testament were baptisms of those who first professed faith. However, the context of those baptisms is first generation Christians, adults who live in places where the gospel was brand new.
I want to throw in here the idea of getting baptized again. I know many Baptist churches will not accept the baptism of a person as an infant and would require them to be baptized again as a professing believer. You can be sure that this is not the example set forth in the NT. Not only are there no examples of those who were baptized as infants being baptized again as adults, but also there are no examples of any Christian baptisms being repeated, nor is their warrant for such.
The logic in understanding how the sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace can be applied to an infant is in the presumptive regeneration of the believer’s children.
My brother Rick put it this way,
For some reason, the term “presumptive regeneration” has received negative connotations. Probably because of how we usually use the word “presume”, as in presumptuous. I would argue for what I call a hopeful or “charitable judgement”.
I think it would be mistake to presume that covenant members are not regenerate. And, I am not convinced that we can really have a neutral presumption toward covenant members. We will either treat people as spiritually alive or as spiritually dead. Therefore, in my mind, the safest thing is to treat covenant members as if they are spiritually alive i.e. regenerate, unless the give us good reason not to. I believe that Christian fellowship demands at least a provisional assumption that our fellow Christians are spiritually alive. Of course, our provisional assumption can turn out to be false. But, I believe that I would rather treat an unbeliever too well than mistreat a believer.
With respect to calling to faith and repentance, I would note three things. First, the Christian life is a life of believing and repenting. Hence, we should always be calling one another to believe and repent. Second, I think that there is a recent over emphasis on conversion experiences. We seem to expect that every Christian will look like an episode out of the book of Acts. I think that we need to be a little more balanced on that point.
Third, and I am just tossing this out for consideration,I see a distinction between regeneration and conversion. Regeneration logically precedes conversion, and conversion is the fruit of regeneration. Therefore, it is logically possible to presume regeneration but yet still look for conversion.
I believe the theory I posited could be applicable in some cases, I believe the explanation from above could be applied as my response to this chapter’s review.