Age, Households, and Consequences

Discussion in 'Paedo-Baptism Answers' started by Grimmson, Apr 29, 2011.

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  1. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    If a non-believer is part of the household, where the head is a believer (confessing Christian), then at what age or reason (referring to the argument) would you NOT require that head to have the non-believer baptized? Should that member be exiled from the household in your option based on the Abrahamic Covenant if the baptism does not take place if you think it is required regardless of the non-believer’s age; and should the head to be placed under church disciple for not forcing the baptism to take place (not speaking in the case of infants here)? Examples of consideration being of adopted teenagers, non-believing mother-in-law moving in, or in the case of a college student still living at home when the head of the household converts.

    I am just curious about your reflected thoughts. My fellow Credos remember that only Paedos can respond here. So please do not interact unless you have a question for further clarification to a given response.
  2. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    First of all, just as in a Baptist church, there's a judgment call regarding when a child is old enough to make his own credible profession of faith. The age depends on the child and the family, and making that decision requires wisdom based on many factors. No one, single age is the rule.

    Second, once the child is old to be considered, with reasonable certainty, to be a non-believer... then the child is also likely old enough to speak for himself at baptism rather than be baptized based on his parents' faith. So such a child woud not be in an infant baptism situation to begin with. The question becomes moot.

    I'm sure there's variation somewhere, but none of the paedobaptist churches I've been part of would baptize a teenager or adult-living-at-home who professed to not believe. They'd be considered adults from a baptism standpoint. Not everything about the covenant as applied to Abraham, or the family and cultural context of his day, transfers over to church practice... nor should it.
  3. littlepeople

    littlepeople Puritan Board Freshman

    hmmmm....Surely Ishmael was old enough to speak for himself too though. It's a sticky question to be sure. In the end, you have to ask whether or not this son is in the covenant.
  4. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    Do we know if Ishmale's sons received the sign?
  5. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    In our churches I think what we see more of is covenant children (having been baptized as infants) neglecting to make public professions of faith. That might be a better topic to discuss.

    I think it depends on the parents to what age the child has to decide for himself about baptism. I imagine that I'd feel comfortable forcing my 12 year old to be baptized (sort of in a "this is between God and us regarding his promises concerning you, our child," not "you are being forced to believe in God.") But I feel that some authority must be lost with a college student. If he were baptized, even by parental authority alone, he'd then be expected/required to make a profession of faith in order to become a communicant member. If you knew he wasn't willing to do that because he didn't believe, I don't see making him be baptized.

    As for people living under your roof that you have no authority over, like the M-I-L, I could maybe see someone saying, "We go to church as a family. If you live here, you'll come too..." but stopping at that. As far as discipline goes, I cannot imagine that head of household being held accountable for his mother-in-law's spirituality.
  6. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    If the child is past infancy, it would be wrong to baptize him or her absent a confession of faith and admission to the table by the session. There are other threads which discuss when this might be.
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    This is a biblical principle as well:
    [BIBLE] John 9:21 [/BIBLE]
    The point is simply this: there are those in every society who are "spoken for," and those who "speak for themselves."

    In Abraham's circumstances, there was two basic choices among those who had some kind of voice: conform to the God-given directions spoken by His minister, or be on your way. There are other masters, other opportunities, and other gods to claim you, or for you to claim.

    The advantage of circumcising the little baby was: that he had nothing at all to say for himself--he was as helpless a picture of man in the fallen state as you can find. He was acted upon by God, through his minister. If there were grown men or even boys who balked at the requirement for joining the covenant-people, they would not become members but remain strangers.

    Would a man put his own son out of his house for not following Jehovah in circumcision as he did himself? I'm willing to bet that was determined on a case-by-case basis. However, that man or boy would have no place in Israel, unless and until he was publicly joined to the nation. He was effectively excluded from the life of the nation, however much he benefited peripherally.

    In Abraham's day, the choice was stark and simple. One man, one family, one house, a sojourner and a pilgrim in the world. One was either committed to the Covenant mediator, or he was adrift with the rest of the world.

    In the land of Israel, many centuries later, the context was different, with the same principles at work in a more settled condition.

    In our day, we make do with our own cultural mores, as we are often obliged to do. In the USA our children are ours until the State decides they are effectively (legally) emancipated at age 18. Our relations to our live-in parents, etc., is a whole other dynamic.

    The simple answer is: if we are found in yet another cultural situation, where the answers to our questions as "what is to be done," must be reordered, then we will do so. Servants such as constituted households in former days are no longer normal in our culture, and perhaps not any place. But in the days of the apostles, it was not abnormal at all. And time could bring "strange" culture back around again. Good thing we don't live so long.

    We live and work within the providential historic circumstances where we are born, or to which we move in our short lifetimes. The Scriptures compel us to rigidity in certain things, and dynamism in others, as it addresses man in timeless fashion.
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